While I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, I’m slowly starting to learn more about taste notes, varietals, and how the origin affects the production. This foundation of knowledge was definitely expound upon during my wine tasting and luncheon at NAHA, hosted by Alessio Planeta of PLANETA wines. A small group of us gathered in the private downstairs space where Alessio not only took us through a thorough tasting of the different wines, but also dined and chatted with us during a delicious lunch prepared by the kitchen staff of the restaurant.
This is no mass produced wine, no selling of it just to make money. This is what the Planeta family has been doing for generations. While you may be familiar with French, Italian, even Spanish wines, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the Planeta family has been producing wines straight from their vineyards across Sicily since 1985. The first labels were produced in 1995 and the company and portfolio has grown ever since. They currently own 6 wineries, 2 special growth areas, 1 wine resort and 1 library!
The Planeta family and company are both agricultural institutions of Sicily, and are proud to share their wealth of knowledge and passion for great wines with us.
ALESSIO, FRANCESCO & SANTI PLANETA
Now, please look at the photo below. This was our tasting portion of the afternoon, and it was so well explained and taught, that I really did learn new things. For one, we started with the light and fruity Frappato DOC Vittoria 2015 and gradually made our way through to the spicy and heavier Santa Cecilia Noto DOC 2010.
Rather than explain every sip of wine we tasted, here’s a quick list along with basic notes on each.
Frappato DOC Vittoria 2015 – low pH, fruity & fresh, elegant smokey tone (frappato grapes are not very alcoholic, making this an easy drinker)
Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG 2014 – quick on the palate with hints of mulberry, wild berries and pomegranate; good paired with fish
Dorilli Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico DOCG 2014 – ripe black cherry with spices; more focused than the other wines; produced since 2009
Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG 2007 – similar to 2014 but with more age, stronger strawberry notes; Pinot Noir style wine
Nocera Sicilia DOC 2015 – soft but lingering, notes of summer fruits, almost tamarind in flavor; good paired with grilled meats
Nero d’Avola Nocera Sicilia DOC 2014 – chocolate and plum taste notes; closest to a Syrah
Noto Nero d’Avola DOC 2012 – mulberry/blackberry with spices and balsamic notes, heavier on the palate and more of a full red
Santa Cecilia Noto DOC 2011 – black current/blackberry/cherry with strong spicy notes (carab, bergamot, orange peel)
Santa Cecilia Noto DOC 2010 – similar to the 2011 but slightly warmer notes, very elegant
Now, of all of these, which were my favorites? The Frappato that we opened up with was definitely the easiest to sip on, and just had light fruity notes that make it easy for anyone to love. Of the aged wines, my favorite was the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG 2007.
But really, who am I kidding? They were all wonderful. Alessio did a great job of really explaining the background of each wine, as well as show us on a map of Sicily where each was produced. There’s such history behind this company and family name that it makes the wine even more enjoyable to sip on.
After the tasting portion of our afternoon, Alessio then sat down with us for the luncheon where we enjoyed a 3 course lunch, paired with Planeta wines.
ORGANIC CARNAROLI RISOTTO | parmesan, confit duck, delicata squash, wood grilled onions, crispy kale
paired with Santa Cecilia Nero d’Avola 2011
ROAST QUAIL | “hash” of brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash and bacon, soft cooked heritage polenta, “frosted” marquis grapes and sage
paired with Santa Cecilia Nero d’Avola 2007
BLUE DEL MUGELLO | italian cheese, shaved pear and pea shoot salad, macerated black figs and seeded ficelle
paired with Santa Cecilia Nero d’Avola 2005
Needless to say, NAHA always creates amazing food and this lunch menu was nonetheless. The risotto was cooked perfectly, and everyone loved the crispy kale on top for some texture. It was my first time trying quail and it was quite lovely! Very delicate, but juicy and flavorful. The cheese course was a perfect ending to a lovely tasting and luncheon. We enjoyed it leisurely while chatting about everything from Chicago to immigration in Sicily to politics (the election was that evening) and back to Sicily and it’s tourism and products.
It was such a pleasure to be included in this group, and also to meet Alessio to learn more about his family and company. Mille grazie!
If you’d like to try my favorites (or any other Planeta wines listed), they are sold in Chicago at Whole Foods and Eataly.
WHOLE FOODS Chicago | 30 W Huron, Chicago IL
EATALY Chicago | 43 E Ohio, Chicago IL
NAHA | 500 N Clark, Chicago IL
Thank you to Palm Bay International for the invitation!