Recently I spent a few hours at lunch with a wonderful group of wine professionals at Locanda Nerello, a restaurant associated with Monaci delle Terre Nere boutique hotel on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.
Sommelier Marco Torrisi was born in Florence and then lived in the U.K. for a dozen years while he worked at Le Gavroche Restaurant in London. He followed that with six years working on the QE2 ship, also involved with wine.
Rigatoni served with cabbage, ricotta and walnuts.
Locanda Nerello sources food locally, including from their own 150 chickens. They also gather local Porcini mushrooms when in season. Because the island of Sicily has more than 20 varieties of wheat, the restaurant makes bread from two indigenous, low gluten flours. They also produce their own balsamic vinegar.
U’Ranaci wine from Guido Coffa, who owns the hotel and winery. The name comes from the Sicilian dialect and means Grenache. This 80/20 blend of Grenache and Nerello Mascalese has a crunchy taste with flavors that include salty licorice and brownies. Beautiful. Sommelier Torrisi mentioned pairing food and wine.
“The harmony of the wine goes well with our local food, which includes pasta, aubergines, Sicilian vegetable soup and even Mediterranean fish courses.”
This rest house is located on a beautiful mountain slope on the grounds of what was once a monastery.
I’ve written two articles about Sicily and wines recently, including one about how Mount Etna avoided the ravages of the phylloxera aphid, which devastated vineyards throughout the world in the 19th century. The other article provides information on land values on Mount Etna.