Our mantra at Wine Lovers is wine, local cuisine and culture, and we achieved our goal again today.

We started at the magnificent Cathedral of Monreale, the finest example of Norman architecture

interior Monreale Cathedral

interior Monreale Cathedral

anywhere. It was built between 1170 and 1189 and has a World Heritage Site designation. It combines Norman, Byzantine and Arab influences and the Byzantine mosaics that cover almost every square inch are truly a marvel.

It’s estimated that it has 2,200 kg of pure gold which we estimated at today’s value at about 104 million dollars. It’s a must see site if you’re near Palermo.

Our next stop was a combo winery and lunch at Baglio di Pianetto, a wonderful 4 course menu paired with 6 wines. The winery produces 750,000 bottles annually and exports 55%. They produce wine from Insolia, Grillo, Catarratto, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

They also produce a Frappato, rarely seen in the US market, with characteristics similar to white wine eg, acidity, fruit, soft tannins, smooth. It’s an Italian version of Beaujolais.

Here was our lunch menu:

Antipasti / Starters

Caponata di melanzane

Sicilian Caponata with eggplant

FRAPPATO 2018

Primi Piatti / First courses

Busiate con crema di zucchine

“Busiate” pasta with zucchini cream

SHYMER 2015 – VIA FRANCIA BIANCO 2016

Secondo /Second course

Rosa di spatola agli agrumi

Spatula round with citrus

RAMIONE 2016 – CEMBALI 2013

Dessert

Cannolo di Santa Cristina Gela

“Cannolo” with sweet ricotta cheese from Santa Cristina Gela

RAIS 2015

We ended the day with a visit to Centopassi Winery. Centopassi has a unique history because it was confiscated from the Mafia by the government, and in 2008, a consortium of 9 cooperatives called Libera Terra, assumed management of the winery. We had a tasting of 6 of their wines: Giato Grillo/Catarratto 2018 DOC Sicilia Superiore, a 60/40 blend, hand-harvested and fermented in

our Centopassi tasting

our Centopassi tasting

stainless steel, a deep yellow gold hue, very good acidity, fruity lemon, almond aromas, rich body; Terre Rosse di Giabbascio Catarratto 2017 DOC Sicily, a ‘home run’ wine as one of our participants exclaimed, with high acidity, peach/almond aromas, this wine was in the running for a 3 Glass award and indeed the 2018 received a 3 Glass award; Giato Nero d’Avola and Perricone DOC Sicilia 2018, 60/40 blend, all stainless steel, deep ruby red color, vinous aroma and very fruit forward; Argille di Tagghia Via Nero d’Avola 2018 DOC Sicilia, again all stainless steel, fruit forward with aromas of violets and plums, soft tannins, spices; Cimento di Perricone Perricone IGT Terre Siciliane 2017, deep deep red color, dark red fruit aromas and flavors, very high tannins, not fruity like the Nero d’Avola, Cimento means challenge because Perricone is difficult to cultivate; Pietre a Purtedda da Ginestra IGT Terre Siciliane 2015, Nerello Mascalese/Nocera 70/30 blend, usually grown in Eastern Sicily but grows well at the winery because of the high altitudes and dark soil, fainter aromas of dark red fruit, fruit forward, high robust tannins, spends 12 months in large oak barrels, a powerful wine.

All in all, a very good day for wine lovers. Enjoy the photos from today’s visits.

Author Vin Marottoli

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