Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Occhipinti, A to Z

Occhipinti SP68 Sicilia Bianco 2009: Bob and Sandy brought this to dinner the other night. I confess that my taste for dry muscat was an acquired one—the experience of a wine whose nose promises sweetness, only to be followed by an almost austere dryness was off-putting to me at first, and while I got over it with time, I can easily understand how others might not find it worth the effort. It amuses me to call the SP68 Bianco the “A to Z” wine, because it is made from Albanello and Zibibbo grapes. “Zibibbo” is the local name for Muscat of Alexandria, which in most parts of the world is considered inferior to Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, but not in Sicily, where the hot climate gives generally excellent results. Both grapes are grown at an altitude of just under 1,000 feet, in soil that is a mix of sand and limestone (not unlike that found around Pouilly Fumé). The juice was left on its skins for 15 days, and the wine spent six months in stainless, was bottled unfiltered, and given another month of aging in the bottle. The initial impression was of floral and herbal notes, plus dried honey. In the mouth, the wine was light, crisp, limpid, with lemony citrus flavor and a nutty note that we were divided over: Some thought almond, some pistachio. If fresh air can be said to have a taste, this wine had it.

Ms. Occhipinti, of course, is a superstar of the biodynamic world, as is her uncle Giusto, who runs the COS winery. This is her first commercial release of a white wine; I look forward to many more vintages.

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