Exploring Nero d'Avola
Planeta’s vision has played a key role in revolutionising the perception and quality of Sicilian wines. Founded on an unrivalled knowledge of the land, and forged by many years as grape growers, the island estate has captured the interest, perfume and freshness of Sicily’s grapes.
The family has pursued an unconventional approach to winemaking, with Planeta establishing a cult following for its barrel-aged Chardonnay, at a time when most other Italian whites were typically consumed straight out of the fermenter.
This early success gave Planeta the credibility it needed to open the world’s eyes to the charms of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, ushering in a broad range of wines that today owes as much to Grecanico and Nero d’Avola as it does to the winery’s signature Chardonnay.
The noble Sicilian grape
The king of Sicilian red grape varieties, Nero d’Avola has flourished on the viticultural island, where it finds its true expression of quality.
Utterly besotted by the plump, black grape, Planeta has made it their mission to help spread the good word and share their interpretation of the diversity in terroir, history and culture. Following in the tracks of Nero d’Avola, Planeta realised that the indigenous grape variety succeeds in manifesting itself in different ways in various territories across the island – starting in Noto, its spiritual homeland, and then moving across to Menfi, Vittoria and Capo Milazzo. In each of these territories, the grape has a unique way of expressing itself and reflecting the terroir. The result? Wines which range from elegant and supple, to unctuous and earthy.
Menfi and Nero d’Avola
A live and dynamic agricultural heart has beaten at Menfi for centuries, forming the character of people and the lie of the land, still wild and unspoilt, planted with vineyards and olive groves. This is where Plaenta's history began with their first vines planted in Ulmo.
Originating in the Noto area, Nero d’Avola has succeeded over time to spread all over Sicily, demonstrating in every area its worth and expressing itself with different characteristics. The old vines surrounding Lake Arancio in Menfi give a soft and fruity, elegant and balanced version, which is expressed in the Plumbago (100% Nero d’Avola). Direct and charming, we love this wine with with everything from a meaty pasta dish to herby roast beef. This wine draws its name from the wild flower which grows around the estate, mottled with the same reddish purple of the Nero d’Avola grape.
Vittoria and Nero d’Avola
For the second stage of their journey through Sicily, Planeta chose a place which is close to the history of their family. Recalling the aroma of Cerasuolo di Vittoria from childhood, it was a natural fit to proceed along the southern coast of the island to come and produce the wine in Vittoria.
Following the 2005 vintage, Cerasuolo di Vittoria was the first Sicilian wine to obtain the DOCG title. Planeta’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria (60% Nero d’Avola, 40% Frappato) and Dorilli Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico (70% Nero d’Avola, 30% Frappato) both expertly express the particular characteristics of soil and climate. A fine and elegant wine, the grapes for Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico Dorilli are grown in a careful selection of vineyards that surround the beautiful and unique estate of Dorilli. Deriving its name from cherry ‘cerasa’ in Italian, Cerasuolo di Vittoria is jam-packed with a basket of youthful aromas of cherry, strawberry and pomegranate.
Noto and Nero d’Avola
On the southernmost tip of Europe, at the meeting of two seas, the history of Sicilian viticulture began. Established in 2008, the Noto DOC gives recognition to a territory which is the true cradle of the indigenous variety par excellence – Nero d’Avola – which, after decades of neglect, has finally had its worth discovered. It is here, in Noto, that Planeta crafts Santa Cecilia, their flagship wine from the most important Sicilian variety. A joy on any table, Santa Cecilia is an expression of elegance, power, balance and exaltation of the unique scents of the lands of Sicily, and today a reference point for reds from Sicilian autochthonous grapes.
Capo Milazzo and Nero d’Avola
When Planeta arrived at the point of Capo Milazzo they immediately knew this would be the perfect place to conclude their journey – completing their wish to present the Sicilian continent through the recovery of its wines in many of its territories.
In Capo Milazzo, Nero d’Avola and Nocera have always been cultivated to produce the very ancient Mamertino, the wine of Julius Caesar. Planeta selected methods of viticulture in keeping with the territory to craft the wine, as per the regulations of the tiny and valuable DOC, composed of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Nocera.
Five minutes with...Alessio Planeta, Winemaker
Why is Nero d’Avola an important variety to invest in for Planeta?
Nero d'Avola is the flagship variety of Sicilian viticulture. The grape represents the whole island, just as Sangiovese represents Tuscany on the international stage.
What most excites you about the Nero d’Avola wines you’re producing in Sicily?
Like a classic Greek sculpture where power and strength is conveyed through the material, the Nero d’Avola combines great structure with inner vibrancy and character. The uniqueness of this wine is remarkable, and each day we're delighted to discover how it has adapted to the different territories where it is produced.
What do you think is the perception of the grape variety, both in Italy and in the UK?
The perception of the variety is in evolution. In the past couple of years the grape has become increasingly trendy, and now we hope to continue to develop the grape's profile of being a high quality, noble variety.
Where would you like to take Nero d’Avola in the future?
To the Premier League of the Italian red varieties.