Literally translated into “Black of Avola”, the red wines made from nero d’avola are just that: dark in the glass with powerful plum and dark fruit flavours. Its richness, texture and firm tannins are reminiscent of shiraz. Read about nero d'avola
A criminally overlooked one. Nero d’Avola is a wine that is slowly growing its presence in both Australia and around the world, and so it should be. Not only is this grape perfectly suited to the Australian palate, it is also perfectly suited to our hot and dry climate. Nero d’Avola is often described as ‘the most important red wine grape in Sicily’ because, if the name wasn’t evidence enough, the Italian isle is where it originated. And while it’s now cultivated in Australia, the US, Malta, Turkey and South Africa, the overwhelming majority of Nero is still produced on the island. In terms of taste, this is a bold and fruity red that has much in common with the shirazes and cab sauvs that Australia is so famous for.
If you love shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, you’ll love Nero d’Avola. It’s a serious red – full-bodied, full fruit, and high in tannin, acidity and alcohol. The flavours of Nero d’Avola begin with deep fruit like black cherry, plum and prune, driving through to tobacco, liquorice and pepper. This hearty palate experience has led more than a few wine writers to compare Sicilian Nero d’Avola to new world shiraz, particularly that of the Barossa and McLaren Vale. And in reality only those with a trained nose and palate are likely to be able to find major differences between these two heavyweights.
Being a full-bodied red with no added residual sugar, Nero d’Avola is on the very dry end of dry. But its wealth of fruit notes can offer the illusion of sweetness if you’re the type of person who’s partial to a teaspoon of the sweet stuff in the morning coffee. Just be prepared for some particularly grippy and bitter tannins to follow.
Nero d’Avola directly translates to ‘Black of Avola,’ a reference to the town of Avola on Sicily’s south coast, which pioneered the use of the grape several hundred years ago. In fact it was only recently – in the last handful of decades – that this grape was grown anywhere more than a stone’s throw from Avola. But it has since spread throughout Sicily and the world in quick time, making it to Australian shores in the 90s.
If it goes well with Australian shiraz, it goes well with Nero. Beef and lamb are the obvious candidates, as the robust tannin and acidity of the wine works perfectly with rich meat dishes. Winter stews and soups are safe bets, as is almost anything that can be cooked on a barbecue. Vegetarians should opt for umami-heavy dishes – anything with a mushroom or black lentil base will work deliciously with Nero.