“When we started at VinItaly, we were just 31 producers from Sicily. Now there’s a whole pavilion of us!”—Gaetana Jacono, owner of Valle dell’Acate and one of the pioneers of the New Sicily
Valle dell’Acate is found in the south east corner of Sicily, located between the Iblei mountains and the Mediterranean sea in province of Ragusa. This corner of Sicily has always been a hotbed of vinous activity, but it was in the 1800s that Gaetano Jacono founded the cellars. At that time, a great part of the wine produced in the valley was destined for export to France to help beef up wines from the Rhone valley and beyond. And since the founding of the estate, six generations of this family of vignerons have toiled in the Dirillo valley. In 2000, shortly after Gaetana Jacono got her degree in pharmacy, she abandoned her career to join the family winery with the aim of taking it to the next level. Jacono is unquestionably a force: an outspoken advocate for her native vines, in 2013 she was elected the brand ambassador for the wines of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a role she takes very seriously. Gaetana’s success in her mission to raise the profile of the estate is a matter of fact: Valle dell’Acate is world-renowned for making high quality Sicilian wines of incredible elegance and a very special sense of place, which is no easy feat on this island. It’s telling that the estate is both one of the original pioneers of the appellation, as well as the current benchmark by which all others must be compared.
Today the estate has about 80 hectares of organically cultivated vineyards planted to mostly Frappato and Nero d’Avola, with also Grillo and Chardonnay. The vineyards are between Acate, Comiso and Vittoria in the historical “Classico” district for Cerasuolo, which was one of the first Sicilian red wines to earn DOC status in 1973. In 2005, Cerasuolo was elevated to DOCG status—Sicily’s only wine to bear this distinction! The Cerasuolo blend must be comprised of Nero d’Avola and Frappato (50% to 70% Nero d’Avola blended with 30% to 50% Frappato), and the wine must be aged for no less than 18 months before release. Valle dell’Acate’s monovarietal Frappato, Nero d’Avola and Grillo are no less compelling than the flagship Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico. And 2018 will also see the first release of the Iri da Iri, a cru of Cerasuolo which showcases the incredible aging potential of this historic blend.
Valle Dell’Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico is a blend of 60% Nero d’Avola with 40% Frappato from 10 to 25 year old vines. Spontaneous fermentation occurs in steel tanks with indigenous yeasts, while maceration for the Frappato lasts 5 days and Nero d’Avola lasts up to 12 days. The wine is then aged for one year in barrel and 500 liter tonneaux, which are in service for seven years. Only 14% of the oak is new. The wine is also left to rest in bottle before release.
Moderately saturated red. Musky, flinty aromas and flavors of red cherry, cherry skin, flowers and aromatic herbs; you can really smell and taste the Frappato. Rich and full, offering considerable minerality to its precise mouthfeel that finishes with round tannins, a hint of mint and very good length. A blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, but this utterly lovely, charming and very floral wine tastes like it has more than that.