Today as we headed towards Taormina, we made a lunch visit at the Nicosia Winery just outside Catania. This is another family-owned estate that has grown enormously in recent years with an annual production of 1.8 million bottles.
It is a completely organic winery located on the Southeast slopes of Mt. Etna. Although they own land in other areas, their prize possession is the 25 acres around the extinct volcano, Mt. Gorna. After an
invigorating walk through the vineyards and an old palmento where wine used to be produced in the past, we had a delightful lunch in their restaurant accompanied by 4 wines.
Our first course was blended eggplant and ricotto with mint, tomato sauce and mozzarella on a bed of eggplant. With this course we had two whites: Vulka Etna Bianco DOC 2018, a blend of Carricante and Catarratto (60/40), very aromatic with citrus, lemon aromas, strong acidity and minerality. The 2nd wine was Etna Bianco Fondo Filara, a blend of Carricante and Catarratto, only with 80% of Carricante. Carricante can add a lot: deep yellow color, intense aromatics and flavors, steps up from the entry level Vulka.
Our 2nd course was a pasta translated as ‘half sleeve’ because it is half the size of rigatoni, with sausage and a white ragu, a type of pesto, only made from wild fennel- delicious! The wine pairing was their Etna Rosso Riserva Monte Gorna 2013, a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (90/10). The wine received a 3 Glass award in the upcoming 2020 edition of Gambero Rosso. It spent 4 years in barrels, of which 2 were in small barriques, and 2 more years in bottle before release. It was clear ruby red with a delightful black cherry aroma, soft velvety tannins, and finished with dark cherry flavors.
The 3rd course was pork tenderloin stuffed with cheese and herbs, accompanied by swiss chard. The wine selected for this course was the Sosta Tre Santi Nerello Mascalese 100% 2013, with a deep red color, not as fruity and a full body. It clearly did not have the same finesse as the previous wine, but still one I would be happy to drink.
From Nicosia, we met our guide for a walking tour of Taormina. However we noticed the large number of tourists in October so we did not have the city to ourselves. We walked to our hotel which is perched on the cliff overlooking the beach- not too shabby for a 3 night stay.