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Carl Hudson
October 12, 2018 | Wine Varietals | Carl Hudson

Nero d’Avola Update 2018– A Sicilian Connection

With the recent release of a new bottling of Brennan Vineyards Super Nero 2016, it seemed appropriate to provide an update on the Nero d’Avola grape variety.  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, 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 and several other hot-climate grape varieties as key components of the Texas wine industry. 

4.0 Cellars currently features the 2016 Brennan Vineyards Super Nero (Nero d’Avola).  This is a rich, dark wine with intense flavors framed by creamy vanilla notes from aging in French oak barrels, a significant portion of which were new.  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 2016 version is similar to the 2014 vintage, and represents a distinct contrast to 2015 Brennan Vineyards Super Nero (Nero d’Avola) which was finished at higher alcohol content with a touch of residual sweetness, almost like an Amarone del Valpolicella wine from the Veneto region in Italy. 

Visit the 4.0 Cellars tasting room on US-290 east of Fredericksburg, and check out the 2016 Super Nero for yourself.  If you are fond of big red wines, this will be a treat.  


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