Given that Piedmont, Veneto and Tuscany already have a strong international reputation, and that high quality wines are produced in what could be called, from a geographical point of view, their “extensions” (Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige and Umbria), Sicily is gaining increasing reputation among international wine lovers, not only for the quality of the wines it is producing but also for their uniqueness.
Frappato is one of the rare, local vine varieties that made on this hot Mediterranean island a rising star in the wine firmament.
What is Frappato? Is it a variety or a wine?
Frappato is a red variety, which is responsible for some of Sicily’s most delicious unknown wines. Grown in the province of Ragusa, especially in the countryside around Vittoria and around Syracuse, in southern Sicily. It seems to perform best when grown on red sandy-calcareous soils such as those of
the Vittoria area; one grand cru area for Frappato is between Pedalino and Acate; another is Bastonaca.
From the genetic point of view, it is believed to have a parent-offspring relationship between Frappato and Sangiovese, and that Frappato is a sibling of the Gaglioppo variety of Calabria.
What is Frappato used for?
Frappato is famous for being one of the two varieties – the other being Nero d’Avola – that can be used to produce Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the only DOCG wine in Sicily.
Not many people know that Frappato is also used to produce a single variety wine that bears the same name and that is surprisingly enjoyable, thanks to its quite light body, pretty unusual for a wine made at certain latitudes, and its pleasant flavors of soft, ripe red fruits. Its delicately tannic personality means you can also lightly chill it.
Best Frappatos are counter balanced by a good level of acidity, which makes them pretty fresh and drinkable, especially when paired with Sicilian savory cheeses and complex fish preparations.
What does the name Frappato mean?
As we are accustomed to see when it’s about Italian wines and vine varieties, their names speak, and their meanings address distinctive peculiarities they have.
Frappato allegedly comes from the word “frappa” (whose etymology should be probably sought in ancient French frape), that means “frill”, “ruffle”, “ruffling edge of a dress”, and is referred to the shape of its grapes, which are pretty sparse and decisively winged.