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An Introduction to Nero d’Avola

Nero d'Avola

 When it comes to Sicilian wines, nero d’avola is often considered the King. Also known as calabrese, nero d’avola (literally ‘the black of Avola’ due to its color) takes its name from the town of Avola in Southeastern Sicily, and is the most widely planted red wine grape (or black grape as they are more commonly referred to in Italy) in Sicily. It is also one of the oldest known indigenous Sicilian wine grape varieties. 

Nero d’avola has been produced in Sicily since the 1600’s, according to the earliest found documents that mention its cultivation. The small dark grape is known for producing both fresh, fruit forward, and easy to drink wines as well as more powerful, structured wines with a darker flavor profile. In body, it is most similar to a syrah, with a good amount of tannic structure but not as much tannin as a cabernet sauvignon. Nero d’avola wines can display flavors and aromas ranging from black cherry, licorice, and cocoa to red cherry and rose, depending on where it’s grown. It is a grape that truly exhibits the terroir in which it has grown.

And, while the nero d’avola is often treated with little oak, and is the main component in some of the most affordable wines in Sicily (for many years nero d’avola was used almost exclusively in inexpensive or cheap wines and blends, like most other grapes in Sicily before the island’s potential for producing fine wines was realized), this grape can also produce structured, elegant, and age-worthy wines. 

What kinds of food should you pair with a nero d’avola?

A few of our favorite things to nosh on with nero d’avola (especially our Duvenera, which is 100% nero d’avola aged for nine months in oak barrels) are Asian short ribs (the flavors in a Chinese five spice rub match perfectly with the plummy, licorice notes found in our nero d’avola), barbecued burgers, and roasted game meats like rabbit, quail, boar or venison. 

If you’re a vegetarian, try grilled portobello mushrooms with garlic and sage.

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