This image has become the allegorical embodiment of decadence and detachment. This, of course, is an apocryphal story. Nero reigned over the
What's a Roman Emperor doing this wine column? While I'm all about decadence (and not so much about pyromania), the only direct link between our day's topic and ancient
However, like many other places in the world, as cultivation and wine making techniques continued to improve, and
Nero d'Avola (also known as "Calabrese") was used for a long time as a blending grape, largely used for its inky color to add some heft to some of the other local product. However, cultivated properly, this varietal produces a very solid wine in and of itself. It's now the most cultivated grape in
While I don't think it will replace Montepulciano or Barbera on my table on a regular basis any time soon, I've tried a few and was pleasantly surprised:
Dievole "Pinocchio" 2006 Nero d'Avola -- Dievole Winery itself is not in
Arancio 2006 Nero d'Avola -- Feudo Arancio wines are Sicilian in origin. This wine is a decent representation of what the grape has become in its native soil. It's not as fruity as the first one -- considerably earthier, and with a little bit of that Italian chalk. It's still pretty fruity, but has a nice spicy undertone that I liked. It would be a great pairing with almost any hearty Italian food. We had it with chicken tortellini soup and it was fabulous. For the price, you can't beat it. $6-10.
Morgante 2005 Nero d'Avola -- When I was a teenage sci-fi/fantasy geek -- back in the days before I discovered that kissing girls was much more fun than Dungeons & Dragons, I read a series of books by Steven Brust. In this series of books, there was a type of weapon called a "Morganti" that destroyed a person's soul. This similarly-named wine didn't quite have that effect, but it did leave my spirit dampened. Available for $11-18, this was the most expensive of the wines that I bought, and was by far the most disappointing. The nose was nice enough -- lots of fruit. The taste of the wine was unimpressive, however. No pronounced character of much of anything, and a finish that could only be described as flabby. Perhaps I just got a bad bottle, but I'd snag two bottles of the Arancio in its place in a heartbeat.