It was late morning, the weather was gorgeous and breezy with bright blue Sicilian skies peppered with clouds that we visited the Agricola Arianna Occhipinti. This young operation is located some 30km to the northwest of Ragusa where the earth is red and rich with limestone and iron and the wind blows all the time.
Grapes thrive in this kind of environment which is why Arianna Occhipinti decided to purchase land here one hectare at a time. Today Occhipinti has 32ha and 25 vineyards, 22 of which are in production. They adhere to organic farming regulations meaning there is no watering, no pesticides, no added yeast (fermentation occurs naturally and spontaneously) and no use of chemicals to interrupt fermentation.
After our tour of the vineyard we were invited inside to sample the fruits of their labour. We tasted the SP68 Bianco and Rosso. The Bianco is a 50-50 aromatic blend of Albanello and Moscato di Alessandria the Rosso is a 70-30 blend of the Frappato and Nero d’Avola. SP stands for Strada Provinciale which is the main road linking many vineyards. In fact, amphorae found in Pompeii were labeled with the names of towns in this area suggesting this has been a wine region for thousands of years!
Grotte Alte is the Cerasuolo of Occhipinti. Cerasuolo is the DOCG appellation of the Vittoria territory and must contain 50-70% Nero d’Avola and 30-50% Frappato. This example is a lovely medium to full bodied wine, a 50-50 blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, with good ageing potential.