Monday, July 18, 2016

Learning the Art of Living Sicilianly with Lucio Matricardi

Lucio Matricardi, the winemaker for Stemmari, was in Houston at Coppa Osteria last month to introduce the Stemmari line of wines to a group of Houston writers. He spoke passionately about the many changes that have been taking place in Sicily regarding winemaking. He explained how the generations before him focused on the easily exportable Marsala cooking wine while younger generations on the island are now focusing on making higher quality dry wines. 

He believes the climate and terroir lend themselves to more natural and sustainable vineyard practices. He says he is interested in making wines that he, himself, wants to drink.  Enjoying wine with meals is part of Sicily’s culture, it is part of “the art living Sicilianly”, according to Matricardi, and he wants his wine to be at the same quality level as the produce he would choose for his meals. 

Across the region, growers and winemakers are committed to using the most modern winemaking techniques to best showcase their indigenous varieties while still respecting the land from which the grapes were grown. 

I really enjoyed meeting Lucio and felt his zeal was reflected in the wines we tried. We enjoyed our tasting over an array of delicious shared appetizers and a selected entree. The atmosphere was lively. I recommend that you look for the wines from Stemmari and try living Sicilianly this summer, too!

The Wines:
The first two wines are made from 100% Grillo grapes grown on the sunny, sandy soils of Acate in the province of Ragusa in Sicily’s southeast. This native Sicilian variety was historically used in the production of Marsala, these first two wines show its versatility. 
Stemmari Baci Vivaci - This spritzy, aromatic wine has light floral aromas with fruity flavors and a pleasant mineral note in the finish. Served chilled, this affordable, light wine would make a great party wine. Tasty with all our appetizers and my grilled fish, it is sold exclusively at HEB.
2014 Stemmari Grillo - This wine is a dry, medium-body white with light floral jasmine aromas and rich tropical flavors. It was also very nice with the appetizers and my dinner. Available at Spec's.

Made from the indigenous Nero d'Avola grape variety also grown in the Ragusa province.
2014 Stemmari Rosé-  This wine had aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries with a light fruity finish. Easy drinking and delightful with everything on the table.

Also made from indigenous Nero d'Avola grapes, these were grown in Sambuca di Sicilia in the province of Agrigento, an area known for creating more intense reds.
2014 Stemmari Nero d'Avola - Velvety smooth and rich with intense strawberry and blackberry aromas and flavors, particularly delicious with the eggplant caponata.

Two blends-
2013 Stemmari Dalila - An aromatic blend of Grillo and Viognier, this medium body white has sweet aromas of tropical fruit, honey and vanilla.
2010 Stemmari Cantodoro - This medium body red blend is made primarily from Nero d'Avola with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon for more structure. It has pronounced mixed dark berry aromas with notes of licorice and vanilla from the longer oak aging.