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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
10 Jun 2011

Not (yet?) available outside Italy, alas.

Checking over our wines of the week so far this year, I see that the most popular single type of wine has been Italian red. My recent immersion in the wines of southern Italy while judging the Radici del Sud wine competition in Puglia (on which I will be reporting in much more detail the week after next), and the prices for 2010s currently emerging from Bordeaux, has served only to stoke my enthusiasm for what Oenotria, the land of vines, has to offer discerning drinkers.

Next week will be devoted to arguably Italy's greatest grape variety, Nebbiolo, but with today's wine of the week I'd like to bring an eye-catching new producer to your attention. Angela Galia had been in the wine business for 20 years, in sales, but in 2005 she decided to found her own label, VeroVini, and start to make wine in the often overlooked far west of Sicily. She now makes 50,000 bottles a year from her own 10 ha of vines and rents another 10 in the province of Trapani, on higher ground around Salemi inland from Marsala and about 50 km north west of the original base of Planeta, perhaps the best-known pioneers of the new Sicily. (I'm mentioning Planeta just as an international reference point.)

The plan for us judges of Radici del Sud was that before tasting hundreds of wines (see the tasting notes here and here) submitted by 134 wineries all over southern Italy on the first three days of this week, we should spend the weekend meeting some of the producers individually. Accordingly, several dozen of them brought themselves, their wines, their literature and occasionally their families to a new hotel in the vineyards south east of Taranto, Masseria Le Fabriche, last Saturday and Sunday. (You can see the video I filmed there of one producer, Petrera on music therapy.)

Angela Galia was the most glamorous of these producers, and, ever the salesperson, the only one to make the trek from as far away as Sicily. She explained that she called her company Vero because it means 'truth' and because the name incorporates the initials of her daughters' names 'with an O on the end'. She was also in evidence, in one of her eye-catchingly tight dresses, at the awards ceremony on Wednesday night at the extraordinary new (but looks old) hotel-resort Borgo Egnazia on the Adriatic coast between Bari and Brindisi.

But, needless to say, I'm writing about VeroVini because of the quality of its wines, not the producer herself. One of the eight in the range particularly caught my attention. I tasted five of her wines open on Sunday afternoon and was particularly impressed by VeroVino, Niuru 2009 Sicilia, but it also managed to seduce me when I tasted it blind on Tuesday. Made from western Sicily's celebrated red-wine grape Nero d'Avola grown on clay at 350 m near Salemi, it is much more serious than most Nero d'Avolas - dense, savoury, even though with the trademark candied sweetness and juice on the palate. But that wine, made by local oenologist Gaspare Vinci, also had some sophisticated polish on the finish (and 14% alcohol on the label). It's more modern than ancient but is well done and ideally needs another couple of years in bottle.

On the basis of the quality of the wines, I would urge anyone with an interest in Sicilian wine to take a look at this new enterprise. I also liked VeroVino, Ariddhru 2010 IGT Sicilia, made from the Marsala grape Grillo grown at 300 m on 'clay with fossils around Marsala'. This 13 percenter was very easy to like: scented and rather shapely and luscious. Another interesting wine was VeroVino, Disiu 2010 IGT Sicilia, a medium-sweet white made from Muscat of Alexandria, called Zibibbo here, half of it from Santa Ninfa near Selema in Sicily and half from the island of Pantelleria. The sweetness of the Pantelleria fruit is tempered by that grown on Sicily so that the overall effect is something akin to lemon marmalade. I am assured it is the perfect partner for bottarga, the local, super-salty tuna roe paste that can be so delicious grated over pasta.

Unfortunately I cannot see any evidence that the wines are available outside Italy, but they should be!