From €7.75, $10.79, £7.99, AU$19.99, DKK 99, CA$20.27, NOK 134.90
This unassuming bottle of wine, with a label that wouldn't look out of place on a dusty shelf in a corner shop, first came across my doorstep with a box of Italian samples in December 2014. It was the 2013, and it caught me by surprise with its cheerful charm. When I tasted the 2014 vintage just 10 months later, in a blind line-up of miscellaneous Italians ranging from £35 down to £5.95 a bottle, it leapt out of the line-up with the sassy energy and the defiance of a hip hop dancer, and out of all the samples, rounded up to take round to friends to finish, it was the Frappato that I kept back for myself.
Looking through our tasting notes database I see that, bar the 2010, which wasn't tasted, this humble little Frappato has a rather good track record since we started tasting it with the 2008 vintage.
Feudo di Santa Tresa is an organic estate in Vittoria, southern Sicily. They take their holistic approach to viticulture very seriously, growing olives, almonds, lemons, oranges, fava beans (for fertilising the soil) and keeping bees. They use the ancient wells on the farm for water, and underground irrigation pipes use 70% less water than drip irrigation would have done. Their 50 ha (124 acres) of vineyards are on a layer of light red sandy loam over a limestone base. Everything is hand-harvested.
The winemaking is clean and simple: grapes are destemmed, but not crushed, selected yeasts are added, and fermentation takes place at 20-22 °C. During the first part of the fermentation, they do remontage until 7% alcohol, and then as soon as the fermentation is completed they separate the wine from the skins. Malolactic fermentation is usually spontaneous and takes place immediately after the primary fermentation is complete. The wine is then kept on fine lees and stirred periodically. The wine is aged in concrete.
The result is a light red with cracking energy and such cheerful refreshing fruit that it's like a dose of youth in a glass. It's the liquid equivalent of being five years old with a bucket, a spade and a big sandy beach. The tannins are fluid, barely there, most of the structure coming from smart, juicy acidity. There's a dash of spice, but thankfully not enough to make this wine serious, which would spoil everything quite honestly.
It must be made in fairly large quantities as it's widely available everywhere from Canada to Latvia, so it's perhaps even more to the credit of Santa Tresa that it tastes so very unindustrial.
It's a wine that begs to be chilled. I know that those of us in the northern hemisphere are starting to open our big warming red wines, and a frisky chilled red seems like the last thing anyone would be looking for right now, but this would work beautifully with fish, perhaps served alongside a caponata, and it would be equally good with hearty, warming tomato-based dishes such as ratatouille and lasagne, or an Assam (tamarind) prawn curry. But it's one of those wines that really doesn't need food – you'd probably find a glass of it within inches of my chopping board in the kitchen, being sipped between dicing onions and trying to stop the smoke alarm.
It's worth adding that their white wine, a Grillo/Viognier blend called Rina Ianca, although not quite as scrumptious, also showed up well against much more expensive wines and is very good value at £8.79 from Adnams. I've also included the 2013 Frappato in the Wine-Searcher link because if that's the vintage you can get hold of, it's just as good.