Tag Archives: sicily

A Wine A Day – Vini Franchetti Passorosso 2014

Wow, really!

This Sicilian wine, grown on volcanic soil, is fuel for your dreams.

Hanging on old vines at a height between 1800 and 3200 ft on the iconic mount Etna, the grapes of Nerello Mascalese (indigenous variety) have given out a wine that is simply perfect.

Aged for 18 months in oak barrels, this Passorosso, new to the Etna Rosso D.O.C with this 2014 vintage, is complex and approachable at the same time.

With soft spices and plenty of minerality which you would expect from a wine grown on volcanic soil, this bottle is packed with “just ripe” red fruit and hints of blood orange.

The tannins are perfectly integrated and the alcohol is just right, giving a full body with enough grip to withstand almost any dish you can imagine while at the same time being delicate.

A great wine to enjoy with food or by itself on a chilly evening!

A wine a Day – Cala Cala Red Wine

This is a wonderful example of two great grape variety, the Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (two of the three main red grape variety of Sicily, Italy).

Italian wines are known to be a bit harsh sometimes and not very friendly to the palate of many people, especially those who are just getting into wine.

High acidity and strong tannins, together with a long finish, typical of Italian wines, however are prone to produce great wines that can age well and that are usually very reasonably priced (I am talking to you, French wines from Bordeaux…cough cough…).

This wine comes from vines that are an astonishing 100 years old on average and give a deep red color. The minerals of the lava soil where the vines are grown give a unique taste you will not find in any other region. Cala Cala (Sicilian dialect for a drink that goes down easily) is great by itself but, as for most Italian wines, you will need food to balance the tannins. The acidity and minerals of this wine call, however, for food that has some fat or acidity in it. My kingdom for a dish of fresh pasta with boar sauce accompanied by this wine!

On the nose, the wine is strong and lightly pungent. Hints of leather and coffee are there thanks probably to the light oxygenation given by the three-year wood barrel aging. Very ripe strawberries and cherries are there too. On the palate, it has a full body, filled with minerals and tannins, strong but never overwhelming. Again, strawberries, cherries and this time also black cherries, blueberries and dates.

The greatest thing about this wine, apart from tasting delicious, is that, being declassified from the Etna Rosso DOC, the price is great, $17.99 on average and it is a great way to start enjoying the wines from one of the most interesting wine regions in the world.

If you find it, grab a couple of bottles and, trust me, you will not regret it!


As usual, I am not paid to promote any of the wines I talk about.

Taormina, stage of kitchen

Turi Siligato, a man “gilted with a knife”articolo  

Greek Theater of Taormina

Salvatore (Turi) Siligato is one of those rare persons who make clear what they think. A man “gilted with a knife” as I like to say, an impressive man with the strength of a Sicilian guy proud of his origins and of what he does. In a part of Taormina (famous tourist resort on  the Eastern Sicilian coast) away from fwhere busloads of tourists arrive to buy souvenirs or visit the Greek theatre, far from the chaos of gelato and tambourine shops, you will find this self-taught chef who is  constatly striving to put the flavor of his native land on the table while researching just the perfect ingredients.

While I’m writing about this wonderful chef, I can’t hold a smile thinking about the time spent in Turi’s reastrurant. As soon as I met him and exchanged a brief chat, he suddenly disappeared to come back wearing an undershit, just to stay cool while we were sitting outside his restaurant in the summer “frame” of the summer in Taormina. While I was talking to him, I can assure you, I’ve seen for an instant, the ocean in his eyes.

As you step inside the “osteria” Nero D’avola, you can see some of the fantastic fresh products that represent the style of this chef in love with the place where he lives.

If you happen to pass by this restaurant when it’s about to open, and you are a bit lucky, you can see some farmers from nearby Etna volcano, or some others, like fishermen and wine makers, stepping insiede to bring some fresh strawberries or some local wild groupes.

After a long chat enjoying the wonderful evening, I climbed the stairs to arrive in the astonishing terrace, ready to enjoy the art of this chef. So, starting with the tuna tartare , and raw shrimp , avocado and Sicilian oranges, fried violet potatoes and courgette flowers and then octopus tartare and paprika and a lemon roulade, tomato and bottarga ( ancient way to preserve the fish eggs in a dry and salty solution) , I let him fascinate me with this fantastic meal. After all these delicacies, the fresh fish arrived. Comb fish and sardines, commonly associated to a peasant kitchen, are rediscovered in unexpected ways.

While I was waiting for some others dishes, I had the honor to look inside the small but efficent kitchen, having the chance to see these simple but genuine raw materials become the uniques dishes I just tasted. In front of me, fishes and fruits releasing thousands of different flavors were passing by and the whirlwind of colors was indescribable.



At the end of this perfect experience, I admit that the only thing I was missing, was some really soft and relaxing music to match the wonderful light of the setting sun. I could not end thinking about this and suddenly someone started playing Chopin somewhere. I went down the stairs and I was fascinated to see that the same person who just a few minutes eartlier was creating new and unique dishes, was now playing the piano, while laughing with some friends. An artist is always an artist and this Sicilian guy certanly is one! The evening was ending and while Turi was playing the piano, the sun was slowly going to sleep among the waves of one of the most beautiful scenarios that this land has to offer.