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swirl and savor

Wine of the Moment, 2007 Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia

Beth Ribblett

One of the stops on our wine and culinary tour of Sicilia, the drive alone to Feudo Principi di Butera was absolutely breathtaking. Winding roads took us from the sea, through the undulating sepia toned hills to the vineyards at 1000 feet in the province of Butera. We were meet by our hostess Irene Malazzo, in the tasting room of the beautifully restored baglio. Our day began with a glass of the refreshingly clean Zonin Prosecco, another wine produced by the Zonin family at their Veneto estate.

We toured the vineyards with Irene, impeccably maintained rows planted with indigenous and international varieties, such as Insolia, Nero d'Avola, Syrah, and Chardonnay. As they are used in vineyards across the world, rose bushes were planted at the head of each row to help determine the health status of vines. The rose acts like a sentinel of the vine as they are both susceptible to the same diseases. They assist the vineyard managers in detecting early symptoms of disease and so they can treat the vines accordingly.

We did the usual cellar tour and then headed to another building on the property for our wine tasting and lunch. The property itself was one of the most beautiful of the entire tour. While walking the grounds we were treated to views of the olive groves, tropical gardens and perfectly restored 18th century buildings that housed the winery and all of its workings.

Our lunch and the setting were simply amazing and we were joined by winemaker Antonio Cufar, a recent addition to the Zonin owned estate. We sampled all of the local products paired with the wines and spent a delightful afternoon with Irene and Antonio. Afterwards they took us to the tower on the estate where we were treated to more breathtaking views of the property.

The wines themselves have always been popular at Swirl. They offer a fruit forward, easy to drink introduction to Sicilian wines with the Insolia always being my personal favorite as it is the most terroir driven of the entry level lineup. Their single vineyard Nero d'Avola, Deliella is a frequent Tre Bicchieri winner and is the shining star of the estate. Winemaker Antonio took us to the fermentation room to try the first vintage of the Syrah he is producing and you can taste that he is taking the entry level wines in a more serious, structured direction. I am anxiously awaiting the release of his first vintage, the 2009's.

But the Insolia from any vintage is not to be missed. The 2007 is aging beautifully with lemon oil and honeyed almond notes and a full, roundness on the palate followed by a clean, crisp, acid finish. It is a staple in the store and a personal favorite with or without food. I had it Saturday night, paired the Orrechiette with Fresh Fava Beans and Gulf Shrimp and the pairing was divine. At $14.50 a bottle it is an exceptional wine and a delicious introduction to one of the island's indiginous varietals.

And Feudo di Prinicipi di Butera is a must visit if you ever travel to Sicilia. The warmth, hospitality, astounding beauty and amazing food and wine that we were treated to that afternoon was one of the highlights of our trip and remains one of my fondest memories. I hope to return soon!