Following my rather lukewarm review of Arianna Occhipinti‘s 2007 Il Frappato, one of Italy’s hottest wines at the moment, I got a number of e-mails both from Occhipinti’s detractors and partisans. One of the latter was Holger Schwarz of Berlin’s Viniculture, who generously offered to send me a bottle of the 2009 so that I could revise (or not) my view. (Danke Holger!).
And so I gathered with a few wine buffs to examine the said bottles. Joseph Di Blasi, a sommelier active in Norway and Poland blogging as Vinosseur, raised a few interesting points about Occhipinti. Upon tasting the 2010 SP68 (a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola that essentially is Arianna’s take on Cerasuolo di Vittoria), a singularly sharp and disjointed wine ending with a blast of vegetal, underripe acidity, Joseph wondered how such high acidity can happen in one of Europe’s hottest corners with semi-biodynamic viticulture (BD wines usually taste riper and rounder than conventional wines). He also objected to high VA in the bouquet and taste. While the impression of puzzlingly high acidity is exactly that which I voiced in my original review, the wine didn’t seem all that questionable to my tastes. But it certainly was a bit contradictory between a most engaging, flowery, ethereal bouquet and the sudden streak of spinach-like chewy vegetality on the finish. Perhaps it would harmonise with time in the glass, I uttered. Occhipinti’s wines are notorious for oxidising and otherwise deteriorating in the opened bottle, replied Joseph, and I remember similar opinions from the internet.
Actually the contrary happened. The SP68 2010 really harmonised, losing its vegetabley oddness, integrating the acidity, and bringing the stupendous flowery expression more to the fore. And the same can be said about Il Frappato 2009. Initially challenging the drinker with the same searing acidity, it mellowed into a marvel of pure silky elegance. Lighter in hue than many rosés, this wine is so beautifully ethereal as to be almost incorporeal. The purity of melted rose and tulip petals here is a rare instance of palpable finesse in the world of wine. Sipping this bottle over an evening and subsequent day, I think I finally grasped the Occhipinti phenomenon. Similar in flavour to nothing in this planet, her Frappato is a must try.
Two bottles received as tasting samples from Viniculture.de, a wine retailer I philosophically support but have no interests in.