2018 Arianna Ochipinti, SP68 Bianco, Terre Siciiane IGT, Sicily, Italy.
The exotic and refreshing Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is an intriguing perfumed, but crisply dry and salty white made from the local Zibibbo grape, which is also known as Moscato di Alessandria, plus the little known local Albanello varietal, it just might be the best version of this wine to date from the ever amazing and talented Arianna. While somewhat rustic in an authentic style, classic for Occhipinti, this SP68 Bianco reminds me of some of the best examples of Muscat, even if it is only about 60%, including my personal favorites from Mueller-Catoir, who’s Trocken Pfalz Muskateller is outrageously good and Wenbach’s Muscat d’Alsace version, which to me of course is high praise! The taste of the sea comes through in dramatic fashion here and it is brisk with acidity making it vibrant and a thrill with matching briny sea foods and especially shellfish in spicy broth and or Moroccan lemon chicken and couscous. Zesty layers of citrus and stones fruits are led by the jasmine and spearmint bouquet and spicy details along with a touch of tropical essences, wet stone and a touch of rosewater bath salts. The persistent lemon/lime and white peach are lifted here with the dramatic aromatics, sea spray, earth and mineral tones and a pop crystalized ginger in a saliva inducing light bodied wine. The SP68 series (White and Red) are named after the local and historic trade road, which has been around for centuries and has a meaning of tradition and history to Arrianna, making these wines very special to her, she thinks she is honoring the ghosts of her ancestors, who used to trade wine in Amphora and carried to market by mules.
Occhipinti, who is one of the leading lights of the natural wine world and mostly known for her amazing work with the Frappato grape, native to her region in Vittoria, Sicily on the southeastern side of the Island, outside of the volcano zone near Ragusa. Her reds have taken the the world by storm and have brought a whole legion of fans to this part of Sicily, especially the signature Il Frappato, but also her Nero d’Avola and blends, including the sister wine to this one, the SP68 Rosso. Arianna Occhipinti had a meteoric start as a young winemaker who at only 21 released her first vintage, that was the 2004 and has only got better with age. She has rockstar image in the wine world, kind of funny for such a down to earth soul and a woman of the earth, still she has became a mystical, if not seminal figure in the biodynamic/organic and natural wine movement. Arianna tends to 14 hectares of olive groves and 5 hectares of vineyards, which she works with a holistic sensibility and pride of place. For the SP68 Bianco, Occhipinti uses a native yeast fermentation after a 15 day maceration on the skins, with all the aging done solely in cement vats, which lasts 6 months to preserve freshness and allow it to gain texture, and it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. This blend, 60% Moscato di Alessandria and 40% Albanello comes from vines about 15 years old and set on her red sand and chalky limestone soils which are set at about 800 or so feet above sea level and that get a cool breeze. Drink now and often.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive