Occhipinti is located in Vittoria, in the southwestern corner of Sicily, and winemaker Arianna Occhipinti’s reputation seems to grow with every vintage. Her first vintage was 2004, though it wasn’t until 2005 that her wines were internationally distributed. Arianna has a total of 10 hectares of Nero d’Avola and Frappato vines that, since April of 2009, have been farmed using biodynamic methods, which she believes has added to the overall expression of the soil. The grapes, planted largely on chalky soils, are trained using albarello or guyot and are left to vigorously grow leaves so as to maintain freshness. Fermentation for Frappato takes place in stainless steel while the Nero d’Avola is fermented in large plastic tubs though her goal is to eventually ferment everything in cement. Maceration for the Nero d’Avola is 30-40 days and longer for the Frappato.
In addition to the monovarietal wines, Arianna makes a blend of Nero and Frappato called SP68. Named for the road going past her house, the wine is made like a Cerasuolo but is labelled as IGT Sicilia as Arianna does not always want to age the wine for the minimum 18 months in barrel required by the authorities. Make sure to taste the first ever release of her 2006 Riserva IGT Rosso, a selection of Nero and Frappato that has extended barrel age. Also not to be missed is the first release of the 2008 Passo Nero, a dessert wine with 80 g/l of residual sugar and 5g of acidity.
There is also an excellent Q&A with Arianna focusing on natural wines.