One of the things I like about the Instagram wine community is discovering new bottles to try. Tonight, in celebration of a short work week, I’m sipping to a recommendation from friends Meg & Merlot (my IG wine bestie) and Drew DiMatteo (a wine yoda). The bottle of choice is a 2017 Occhipinti SP68 Bianco. The wine is named “SP68” for the road near Arianna’s home vineyard in Vittoria.
Occhipinti is located in the Vittoria region of southeastern coast of Sicily between the Mediterranean Sea and inland mountains. Owner, winemaker, and viticulturist Arianna Occhipinti (woot woot, girl power) founded the estate in 2004, and bottled her first commercial vintage in 2006. Today, she works exclusively with estate fruit and her 25 hectares are certified-organic. She practices biodynamic farming and features only native Sicilian varietals: 50% Frappato, 35% Nero d’Avola, and 15% white varieties Albanello and Zibibbo (aka Muscato of Alexandria).
Arianna fell in love with wine at 16, when she worked her uncle Giusto Occhipinti’s cellar—who was the proprietor of Vittoria’s most famous winery, COS. She loved every moment of it and went to oenology school to start her own production. She started her journey with one hectare of abandoned vines attached to a family vacation house. Arianna followed the teachings of her uncle—organic viticulture, harvest by hand, and native-yeast fermentations—for her own wine production to express the freshness of the Vittorian microclimate.
The wine is made up of 60% Muscato of Alexandria and 40% Albanello. The vines were grown on red sand soils over limestone rock, with vines averaging 15 years old on several different estate sites. The vines were organically farmed and hand-harvested. The fruit was destemmed and co-fermented with native yeasts in concrete tanks and with a two-week skin maceration. The wine was aged in concrete tank for 8 months and bottled unfiltered.
The wine was medium gold in color with an extremely fragrant nose—very strong, almost medicinal to me right off the whiff, with dried herbs and flowers. Really complex stuff. On the palate, I got notes of minerality, dried stone fruit, nectarine, apricot, and some overripened apple. It was complex and reminded me of Orange wine (which I love exploring). I found this bottle in Eataly during my trip to NYC for $24.99. It’s definitely a “thinker” kind of bottle, where you take in all of the notes. It may not be for everyone (like my hubby), but I loved it. I totally drank most of the bottle between prepping for dinner and winding down with some crappy reality TV (Married at First Sight—bottom of the barrel on my queue). I paired it with grilled chicken and arugula salad, followed by post-dinner Cheez-Its.