March 2, 2015
Why You Should Be Drinking Frappato Now
Wine is a fickle thing—not just because grapes are temperamental, but people’s drinking habits and preferences are equally unpredictable. One minute, big oaky California chardonnays are all the rage, the next imbibers insist on bone-dry varieties from stainless steel tanks. One day, nobody in America has heard of Frappato; the next, nearly every wine list worth its salt is featuring the wine. To the uninitiated, this may seem like pure happenstance, but savvy sommeliers know better. So we called in one such expert, Eric Brown, owner of boutique wine shop Le Caveau Fine Wines and curator of the original wine list for Southbound (both of which are located in Chamblee, Georgia), to help us understand why we should be drinking Frappato now.
KPK: So, what is Frappato?
EB: Frappato is a red grape variety planted primarily in Sicily. When young, it is fresh and bright with lots of red fruits, and with a little age it shows some elegance with aromas/tastes of dried fruits and dried flowers.
KPK: How did you first discover Frappato?
EB: I was first exposed to the variety when Arianna Occhipinti visited Georgia a few years ago. We did a wine dinner together and I fell in love with her Frappato due to its lighter personality, while still showing tons of complexity.
KPK: Is that why you added it to Southbound’s wine list.
EB: When I put it on the list, it was the middle of summer and it’s such a great, thirst-quenching summer red, with or without food, due to its lighter body and fresh acidity.
KPK: Why don’t more people know about Frappato?
EB: There are very few varietal bottlings of Frappato, as it is most often used as a blending grape with Nero d'Avola. But, I think it’s gaining in popularity as the quality of Sicilian wine is at an all time high, and there is a lot of consumer interest in the wines of Sicily right now.
KPK: Where can we find Frappato? How should we store it?
EB: Search out Frappato in your local, independent retail shops. It’s typically inexpensive (around $20 a bottle or less), with some of the more limited, age-worthy bottlings between $30 and $40 per bottle.
KPK: So it ages well?
EB: It ages beautifully in the short to mid-term depending on the vintage, losing some freshness, but gaining in elegance and complexity, like Occhipinti's 'Il Frappato', which ages well for up to 10 years or more.
KPK: Which vintage do you recommend?
EB: 2010 is my favorite—the wines have great balance, concentration and age-worthiness.
KPK: Who makes your favorite Frappatos?
EB: Arianna Occhipinti 'Il Frappato' is my favorite for aging, as well as her Uncle Guisto's version at the COS winery. Centonze and Occhipinit’s Tami are great for early drinking and with a tiny bit of age.