The Coast News Group

The fullest expression of the latest Sicilian wines

If you read this column and others in your search for the next “big thing” in wines, you have to conclude that Sicily is about to burst on the world
stage with its big bold Nero D’avola based wines. Every Mediterranean power since civilization began has had control of Sicily and it has only been recently that Italy made it part of their government. Sicilian people are hardy, independent and with a strong sense of place in all that they do, including winemaking. And that’s what makes Sicilian wines so special. Italy is first in the world in wine production and Sicily is its most productive region. The holy trinity of wine, bread and olive oil is enriched in Sicily.
Out of this legacy, the Maggiore family set its course in America with fine Italian restaurants, the best ingredients possible, and now, a family of fine wines from Sicily. Tomaso Maggiore, after establishing successful Italian food and wine experience locations in the Phoenix area, opened Tuscany in Carlsbad some 15 years ago and never looked back in developing quality, reasonably priced restaurants for he and his family. Yet he yearned for his own wine.
On one of his many trips to Sicily, he met by chance Giovanni Maggio, who shared the same dream. In 1994, in Agrigento, Sicily, a vineyard of 150 acres was born featuring wines with the bold, natural flavors of the land, and a complexity that ensured its success. Maggiore’s Luxus 5 Meritage is a blend of 55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Nero D’avola, 13 percent Merlot, 5 percent Petit Verdot and 7 percent Syrah.
It was my favorite at a recent Tuscany wine tasting. The Maggiores are particularly excited about their wines since daughter Melissa Maggiore has launched MZ Wines, a distributor of fine Italian wines with Luxus 5 Meritage as the showcase. It’s priced at an attractive suggested retail of $50 for the 2002 vintage. “My wines are world-class,” Melissa declared. “The warm, dry southern coast of Agrigento Sicily produces intense, lovely expression of the vineyards’ grapes. We have a high-end Chardonnay, Luxus One, that is gorgeous. Also our big bold reds are perfectly balanced: the Lusso Rosso with 70 percent Nero d’avola and 30 percent Syrah; and what we like to call the Super Sicilian, the Luxus 5 Meritage with classic Bordeaux age-abilty.” For information on these and other wines in her portfolio, call Melissa at (760) 473-2862 or check out her Web site at Tuscany restaurant’s phone number is (760) 929-8111.
Screwcaps on wine
bottles — live with it
OK, on high-end wines, I don’t want them either. It’s the ritual of a cork and the pop when it finally reveals its bouquet, that’s part of the mystique of a lovely, lively red. But on most bottles of white and “everyday” bottles of some reds, however, I believe there are advantages in having a screwcap seal in the flavors.
Corks are porous. After 72 hours from the first taste, that bottle had better be finished or what’s left is finished. Not so with the screwcap. And no chance of cork taint, the stench of a contaminated cork. Most Aussie and New Zealand wines are now moving to a screwcap. I see it more in the wines in Temecula.
With superior cork product now getting scarce and expensive in the world, look for more wines with screwcaps.
The Local Sip
Bacchus Wine Market in San Diego’s Gaslamp District has its next “Drink Yourself Blind” brown bag blind tasting Sept. 26 from 4 to 8 p.m., and Sept. 27 from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Cost for both is $15 each with eight bottle tastings. Call (619) 236-0005. Guess right on four or more and wine a prize.
Wine Spot in Carlsbad has a Mendocino County wine tasting Sept. 26 through. Sept. 28 from noon to 9 p.m. The cost is $20 per person. Call (760) 434-9463 for details.
Wine Vault & Bistro is planning a six-course Tuscan Wine Reception and Dinner Sept. 28 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for $49.50 each. Includes six great Tuscan wine favorites. Call (619) 295-3939 for details.
Carlsbad Wine Merchants is celebrating its fourth anniversary Oct. 3, Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. Friday 5 to 8 p.m. is Vino Italiano night and Sat. Oompah Pah Octoberfest fun. Call (760) 804-9994 for details and fees.
South Coast Winery, Resort and Spa is the setting for the next Business of Wine San Diego State course: Wine Making Behind the Scenes, all day Oct. 11. You will learn “grape to table” techniques. For fee and availability, call the university at (619) 594-6924.