If you need a nudge transitioning into fall, three Sicilian winegrowers are happy to be of service. Each vinifies a native red grape you may have already tasted — even if you don’t recognize it by name.
That winsome grape is frappato. Characterized by exuberant fragrance and red berry flavors, the varietal hails from the southeastern corner of Sicily. (Remember that the island lies at the toe of Italy’s boot.) With its thin skins, compact bunches, and ability to thrive in a hot, dry climate, it is historically best known as a component in the red wine blend Cerasuolo di Vittoria, where it softens nero d’avola. In skilled hands, frappato can be made as a single varietal wine that tastes like summer sunshine.
Giovanni Gurrieri’s first vintage was 2010, but his family has grown table grapes for years in the province of Ragusa. Tucked amid their table grape vineyards are plots of fast-draining sandy soil on which frappato grows best. Gurrieri vinifies the grapes with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, allows the wine to rest in tank for half of a year, then ages it in bottle for a few months prior to release.
When Arianna Occhipinti launched a label called Tamí in 2009, she had already forged a distinguished reputation with her eponymous line of naturally farmed wines, crafted from the native grapes of Vittoria. The Tamí project, created in partnership with friends, was designed to bring well-made, everyday-drinking wines to the market — including one made from frappato. Concrete and stainless steel vessels and indigenous yeasts are employed here, followed by six months of in-tank aging.
Lauded for its Cerasuolo di Vittoria and amphora wines called Pithos, COS winery was founded by three friends. Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti (the uncle of Arianna), and Cirino Strano. The initials of their last names form the company moniker. Fermentation occurs by means of indigenous yeasts and concrete vessels are used for aging, resulting in a frappato that’s lithe on the palate and full of ever-evolving aromas.
During warmer months, you might have chilled these lower-tannin reds. At the end of September, room temperature — or just a 20-minute stay in the fridge — will suffice. The sunny juiciness of these bottles will put you in the frame of mind to welcome autumn leaves.
Gurrieri Vittoria Frappato 2018 Raspberry, cherry, violet petals, and a pinch of earth on the nose lead to a juicy, very-berry palate with pretty balsamic notes and a whisper of orange peel beneath. 13 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Around $20. At The Spirited Gourmet, Belmont, 617-489-9463; Wasik’s, The Cheese Shop, Wellesley, 781-237-0916.
Tamí Frappato 2017 After a few swirls of the glass, an initially rustic whiff relaxes into ripe red berries and freshly turned earth. It’s tart in the mouth with appetizing tannins, crushed berries, and a ferrous note reminiscent of rare meat. 12.5 percent ABV. Around $17. At Pemberton Farms, Cambridge, 617-491-2244; Savour Wine & Cheese, Gloucester, 978-282-1455.
COS Frappato 2018 Scents of high-toned cranberry, stoniness, and dried petal sachets point to a tart, lean palate of red berries, clay, and fine-grained tannins. 12 percent ABV. Around $25. At Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Somerville, 617-623-0867; Needham Center Fine Wines, Needham, 781-400-1769.
Ellen Bhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.