2015 Arianna Occhipinti, Il Frappato, Terre Sicilianne IGT, Vittoria, Sicily Italy.
A lot has been said about Arianna Occhipinti, a leader in natural wines, and her wines, she is an old soul and a super human hard working winegrower in a young body, one thing is certain, Frappato has almost become a household name because of her and her wines, especially her signature bottling the Il Frappato, it a wine of wondrous earthy pleasures, seductive in form and delicate in nature it has the presence of a lighter Nebbiolo with brandied cherry and balsamic notes, but with the easy charm of a fine Cru Beaujolais highlighting Frappato’s strawberry and lingonberry core of fruit. Occhipinti is an old soul and has her heart deep in her region’s terroir and traditions, her soulful expressions are full of pride of place and laced with a rustic charm that is seductive in every sense, her 2015 is maybe her best to date with a serious, almost Burgundy like feel, energy and class while still remaining utterly spellbindingly true to her spot on earth, near Ragusa in the Vittoria zone, with it’s red, sandy soils above limestone. This is a wine that has really come of age, losing the absoluteness of youth and dogma to reach a classic dimension and a studied quality of complexity and completeness that may have just been missing in a few of her earlier examples, she and her uncle Giusto, who makes the famed COS, make great wines, but uniquely different in styles even though both are leaders on the island for that natural approach with COS using ampfora and much less wood in a nod to the ancient methods. Not that the ripe vintage lacks for fruity expression, it just allows a deeper vein of restraint and depth of dry flavors to excel in a wine that in prior years could be dismissed as simple or naive, while there’s no question of Occhipinti’s natural wine leanings, this wine takes beyond that niche pigeon hole into the world where a harsh spotlight looks for any flaw and where survival depends on consistency of clarity, well, now there will be no doubt of her talents, this 2015 is a gorgeous and compelling wine without any excuses to fall back on. Lightly floral and with an array of spice, earth and racy red fruits Arianna’s Il Frappato delivers an exceptional performance from start to finish on par with a Premier Cru Nuits-Saint-Georges or a serious Fleurie, the medium bodied palate is lively and full of verve with the mentioned core of dusty cherry, tangy plum, strawberry and Swedish lingonberry fruits along with chalky stone, saddle leather, dry extract, minty herbs, tarry licorice, red peach, candied citrus zest, lavender florals and dried porcini. The tannins are remarkably refined and the acidity is perfectly lifting without taking away from the beautiful textural mouthfeel, this native ferment and used barrel raised, low sulfur red is an intriguing and flexible wine for cuisine, especially lightly spicy seafood and simple country fare, drink over the next 3 to 5 years, Occhipinti continues to raise her game and you’ll want to rush to get this one, with her cult like following it will always be a hard get!
($39 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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