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Carl Hudson
April 1, 2021 | Carl Hudson

Nero d’Avola – A Sicilian Connection (Update 2021)

Texas Wine Collective - Carl’s Corner

Nero d’Avola – A Sicilian Connection (Update 2021)

Brennan Vineyards produces a bottling called Super Nero, a blend based on the Sicilian grape variety called Nero d’Avola.  Nero d’Avola (also known as Calabrese) is an important and widely planted red wine grape variety on the island of Sicily.  The name literally means “Black of Avola”, highlighting the grape’s extremely dark color.  Although the grape may have originated in the Calabria region of mainland Italy, its strongest presence today is in Sicily.  The primary growing areas are located in the countryside near the town of Avola on Sicily’s southeast coast – a key trade region in the Middle Ages.  Since that time, and up to the present day, Nero d’Avola has most often been used in blends to add color and body to lesser wines, especially those from mainland Italy. 

Once relegated to blends with no mention on the label, Nero d’Avola has experienced a surge in popularity over the past two decades.  The varietal name often appears on wine labels and its popularity may be somewhat related to the name “Nero” being easy to say and remember.  Nero is often compared to Syrah because they have similar flavor characteristics and prefer similar growing conditions – a hot, arid Mediterranean climate, low vigor soils, and lots of sun.  Nero d’Avola typically produces dark, dense wines that are aged in oak barrels to soften the tannins.  Younger wines usually show medium acidity, good depth, and juicy red and purple plum flavors with a peppery edge.  Older wines develop aromas and flavors of chocolate, coffee, smoke, boot leather, and black raspberry fruit. 

Because of success in hot, arid growing regions, Nero d’Avola has been planted in places like Australia, Turkey, California, and now, Texas.  Texas grape growers continue to look for varieties to plant in the typically hot, arid, and sunny conditions found in most grape-growing areas of the Lone Star state.  For that reason, expect the popularity of Nero d’Avola to continue to increase in Texas, for growers, wine makers, and consumers.  Nero d’Avola has the opportunity to join Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Tannat, Sagrantino, and several other hot-climate grape varieties as key components of the Texas wine industry. 

Texas Wine Collective (4.0 Cellars) will soon release the 2018 Brennan Vineyards Super Nero (Nero d’Avola).  This is a rich, dark red wine with intense flavors framed by creamy vanilla notes from aging in oak barrels, a portion of which were new French oak.  The wine is dry and finishes with bold, yet ripe tannins – offering a delicious pairing with bolder Italian dishes, grilled fare, especially steaks, and Texas-style barbecue.  This 2018 version represents a masterful effort by winemaker Todd Webster to create blend to show off the key characteristics of Nero d’Avola while stretching the supply of wine in order to fulfill expected allocations needed for both the Brennan Vineyards and Texas Wine Collective wine clubs.  This new vintage should fit nicely, and deliciously, into the series of Super Nero wines produced by Todd Webster – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and now, 2018. 

If you are a fan of big, juicy red wines, visit the Texas Wine Collective tasting room to try this 2018 Super Nero blend comprised of Nero d’Avola 28%, Newburg Vyd, Comanche Cty; Syrah 34%, Comanche Vyd, Comanche Cty, and Montepulciano 38%, Diamante Doble Vyds, Tokio, Terry Cty.  Cuvées were fermented separately in stainless steel over 3-5 weeks and aged 12-18 months in mostly used American & French oak barrels before being blended and bottled at 14.5% ABV, 0% RS (DRY). 


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