The Mandrarossa winery is located near the town of Menfi on the southwestern coast of Sicily, in an area where several other very good wineries are situated. Recently, I was sent some of their wines in a marketing effort from Cantine Settesoli SCA, which owns several wineries in the area, including Mandrarossa. Media relations specialist Annalisa Chiavazza wanted me to try Mandrarossa’s “Cartagho”, which had won the 2017 “Tre Biccheri” award from Gambero Rosso, an Italian wine-rating organization. Fortunately for me, she sent two other Mandrarossa wines as well.Since I was at my home in Texas, I was able to try these wines with various meals prepared by my wife, a superb cook. As I have said in the past, Italians rarely drink wine without eating something, usually a full meal. Now we move to the tasting itself.
At a normal family dinner with several members of our family and guests, we began with an appetizer of carciofi Siciliani (stuffed artichokes, see one of my earliest articles for the recipe) accompanied by a 2017 DOC Urra Di Mare, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc grape wine. This 13% alcohol wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel for three months and then aged in the bottle for another four months. The resulting wine was a pale straw yellow in color, had a very fruity nose and finished medium smooth. Everyone liked this light and fruity offering and I rated it an 89/90.
With the main course – a combination of stuffed mirliton (a New Orleans favorite) and marinated flank steak – we tried the award-winning 2014 DOC Cartagho, a 14% alcohol, 100% Nero D’Avila grape wine. The Cartagho is macerated for 8-10 days at 22-25°C. Aging takes place in oak barriques for 12 months followed by a further four months in the bottle. This wine had a complex nose with a dark garnet color. It finished long and very smooth and I rated it a 93/94. It is an excellent example of high quality Nero D’Avila and I recommend it highly.
The last wine, tried at a later date with pork cutlets as the main dish, was a 2017 DOC Costadune, a 13.5% alcohol, 100% Nero D’Avila grape wine. Almost purple in color with a slight leather nose, this wine had a medium but reasonably smooth finish. The maceration procedure is the same as for Cartagho, but aging is only for three months in stainless steel followed by three months in the bottle. I rated this wine an 88, but I believe it will improve with some aging.
Mandrarossa offers a number of other wines made from indigenous Sicilian grapes, other Italian grapes and also French varietals. I hope one day to try more of these wines as the three I have tasted were good to very good. Mandrarossa is imported in the U.S. by Palm Bay International.
Thanks to Annalisa Chiavazza, media relations specialist at Well Com, the Italian PR representative for Cantine Settesoli SCA’s Mandrarossa wines, who sent me some of these wines to taste.