What a Pair!

Sip Tommy Spina’s Sicilian wines with GianMarco’s Italian fare. 

By Jan Walsh 

Local defense lawyer, Tommy Spina’s Sam Spina Importing Company has a new release of Sicilian wines. And Spina kindly dropped off the wines at my home for me to taste. Four 2019 vintages include a white, Catarratto and three reds: Perricone, Frappato, and Nerello. 

Afterwards my son, Jordan, also a lawyer, comes home for Mother’s Day week. I found the wines to be a nice opportunity for some mom and son time, as he and I taste through the wines together in my tasting room. First, we found the Catarratto 2019 to be an easy drinking wine. Light straw in color, at 12.5 percent alcohol. Lively and of pear and lemon peel with a stony minerality with the body of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The Perricone 2019 is made of handpicked grapes. Perricone has long been the most important red grape in Western Sicily, yet typically a blending grape. This lovely wine is red to purple in color, light in body, with notes of berry, honey, and vanilla, at 13.5 percent alcohol. Frappato 2019 is a well-balanced beauty: dark ruby in color, with gorgeous notes of blackberry, and lovely legs at 13 percent alcohol. It conjures up memories of my great grandfather Mason’s blackberry “wine,” which leads me to share stories with Jordan of how this wine was stored under the porch in Union Springs, and my Grandfather Copeland who made real wine from grapes on our family farm at Snead… wine barrel and all. Onto our final wine, Nerello Mascalese 2019 is garnet in color, with notes of plum and spice, at 13 perfect alcohol. Our top picks are Catarratto and Frappato. All four wines are delightful and a great value. Yet our two top picks are the Catarratto and Frappato. Find Sam Spina’s wines at your neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. 

A couple of weeks later, Kev and I lunch with a group of friends at GianMarco’s Restaurant, where these two favorites are on the wine list. Everyone at the table wants to know what I recommend and what I am ordering before they order. Although the Fettuccini is not on the menu, the kitchen happily obliges my request for it with shrimp.  And I opt for my other tried and true favorite, Fiocchi to share as an appetizer for all. We pair these pretty pasta purses with the Catarratto. After enjoying this wine at home without food, I am delighted how well it compliments both the fiocchi and my shrimp fettuccini. Its lightness is a match for the delicate fiocchi. Its integrated flavors enhance without overwhelming its pear, gorgonzola, fig, prosciutto, and walnuts in drawn sage butter. And its acidity cuts the ribbons of creaminess in the fettuccini and makes a harmonious match for the succulent shrimp. I will order this wine again with both these dishes. Our guests find the Frappato marries well with their tender Veal Parmesan over Spaghetti and the Spaghetti Sunday, which includes their famous meatballs and house made sausage in a fresh, vibrant sugo. The depth of this wine and its hint of spice stands up to the tomato in these dishes and embraces their meatiness with soft tannins and blackberry flavors. The Frappato is highly recommended for any tomato based, meaty dish. It is also one to hold onto. I have a bottle in my cellar and plan to taste again with more age in a few years. 


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