By Marcia Frost
I love to cook and my grandfather was the one who honed my skills when it came to Italian food. Whether my ravioli didn't have enough cheese or my sauce wasn't sweet enough, Grandpa Joe would always voice an opinion. He was also adamant about having a good, Italian, red wine with those dinners.
Nunzio had driven us from the airport in Palermo to Ragusa so we had gotten to know him a bit during that drive, but we were still a bit concerned when he stopped just off the highway and told us someone was meeting us there. It turned out that Tasca d'Almerita had sent a driver to take us up the mountain, a road that many did not wish to travel.
It was quite the trip up to Regaleali as we circled up the mountain with no guard rails or pavement. At one point we even had to wait for the sheep to get out of the road! It was quite a bumpy trek, but the end result was beautiful – both the view from above and the small town.
The villa home of Fabrizia Lanza, which also housed the Anna Tasca Cooking School* and its guests, was like something out of a movie. It centered around a picture-perfect courtyard where we sat, drank wine and nibbled on appetizers. It turned out her father was in for a visit so he picked his favorite wine for dinner, a 2007 Rosso Del Conte, an estate wine of Nero d'Avola. We had that with dinner and finished the meal with Diamante, a deliciously suite combination of moscato and gewürztraminer.
I spent the night in a lovely room at the winery, which mirrors the villa that Francesca lives in.
The vineyards of Tasca d'Almerita are quite different than others in Sicily as it gets colder up on this mountain. Some of the hearty Italian grapes appear to like this and it shows in the wine they make. Sasha took us through the property, which includes 1,000 acres of vines, and the winery before we sat down for a brief tasting.
The Regaleali Nozze D'Oro is a very citrusy blend of insolia and sauvignon tasca, an Austrian variety, while the Cygnus mixes cabernet sauvignon with Nero d'Avola and just a bit of soaking for a wine with blueberry and white pepper flavor. I also really liked the Sallier de La Tour Estate Bianco, a perfect pairing of viognier, Semillon and sauvignon blanc.
Regaleali just one of five locations Tasca d'Almerita has vineyards in Italy. The variety of wines they produce is enormous and I wished I had a week to try them all, but there were more Sicily wineries I needed to get to.
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