Cheers to Women’s History Month! Throughout the month, I’ll be featuring different female-centric wines and I’m kicking off the necessary celebration with a wine by a kick ass female winemaker—Occhipinti Frappato Terre Siciliane IGT 2017.
My friend Drew introduced me to Arianna Occhipinti’s wines a little while back (you can see my notes on her SP68 Bianco 2017 and Il Frappato 2011) and I’ve been a fan of hers ever since. Occhipinti is located in Vittoria, in the southwestern corner of Sicily, and winemaker Arianna Occhipinti’s clout has been on the rise ever since. Occhipinti has worked in the wine industry since age 16 (her uncle is Giusto Occhipinti, a Sicilian winemaker of the COS estate) and started releasing wines under her own label at age 22. Her first vintage was 2004, though it wasn’t until 2005 that her wines were internationally distributed.
Her 25 hectares of vines are farmed all organically and biodynamically, dedicated only to indigenous Sicilian varieties. She believes that the biodynamic methods add to the overall expression of the soil, so you’ll find healthy grapes, spontaneous fermentations, indigenous yeasts, very low sulfur content. The grapes are planted largely on chalky soils and are trained using albarello or guyot, left to vigorously grow leaves to maintain freshness.
‘Terre Siciliane’ is a varietal Frappato harvested from 40-year-old vines. Fermentation for Frappato takes place in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts only with 30 days of maceration on the skins, though Occhipinti’s goal is to eventually ferment everything in cement. It was aged for 14 months in large 25HL Slavonian oak barrels and then aged for one month in the bottle, unfiltered.
Il Frappato stems from a dream Occhipinti had when she was a girl—to make a wine that knows the land that she works, the air she breathes, and her own thoughts.
“It is bitter, bloody and elegant. That is Vittoria and the Iblei Mountains. It is the wine that most resembles me, brave, original, and rebellious. But not only. It has peasant origins, for this it loves its roots and the past that it brings in; but, at the same time, it can fight to improve itself. It knows refinement without forgetting itself.” — Arianna Occhipinti
I opened this bottle with my friend Sarah, who hadn’t heard of these wines, and we were both glad I brought it out. The wine was pale ruby in color and had a strong red fruit nose. It was light-medium bodied, light-medium tannins, and medium+ acidity. It was fresh and bright, but serious at the same time, and totally crushable. Had notes of red fruit, like raspberries and strawberries, a little earthy funkiness, and florals. I got it from Verve Wine for $47. I only wish the price was as crushable as the juice, so I could drink it all the time.