Tasca, A Sicilian Icon

Tasca d’Almerita  is the Sicilian winery that always comes to mind first whether it be for their long noble history in the region, their leadership on sustainability, or just because I love all of their wines, Tasca is always first in my book.,

In the past decade or so I have had the opportunity to meet the owners and to taste the wines many times, most recently at. a tasting in New York in October where I was able to taste both the Rosso del Conte, and to express my condolences about the passing of the true Conte last year, Luciano.

I also had the opportunity to taste Tascante, their wine from Etna which I really liked from the first moment I tasted in it years ago.. Neither was a disappointment and were exactly as I remembered.

Tasca d’Almerita is in its 8th generation of their history. They have five estates and about 600 hectares of vines in Sicily. They are exported all over the world and are brought into the US by Winebow They also have two amazing resorts and a serious commitment to sustainability. The estates are Capofaro on the Aeolian island Salina, Tascante on Mount Etna, Sallier de la Tour in Monreale, a joint venture, with the Whitaker Foundation on Mozia, and the Regaleali estate which now stretches over 500 hectares in the very heart Sicily. They also have Villa Tasca (formerly Villa Camastra) in Palermo.

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I first met one of the two brothers running Tasca today –  together with their father Count Lucio –  at Vinitaly in 2011. I was translating for the Wine Spectator at meetings they had with groups of 10 wineries from each region. All of the Sicilian wineries that day were impressive but Tasca was something more. Every year I spend a long time at the Tasca stand at Vinitaly. It is always artfully done with interesting materials and with vegetation from Sicily. One year they brought orange trees, another herbs that grown on the island. It is usually so packed it’s hard to get a space to taste but I always taste through all of their wines.

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In addition to the two wines I tasted again just this past March, I’d be hard pressed to say which one of the Tasca wines I prefer because honestly I love almost all of them. One that of course stands out is Almertia Extra brut. It is made from 100% Chardonnay and has the Contea di Sclafani D.O.C designation and hails from the Regaleali Estate. It stays on its lees for 36 months. It has rich, apple flavors with a great almond note. I also love that Tasca has a female winemaker, Laura Orsi on their team at Regaleali. Tasca planted Chardonnay in Sicily in the 1980s, the first to bring Chardonnay to Sicily.

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Nozze d’oro is another famous Tasca wine. This one is made from 72% Inzolia and 28% Sauvignon Tasca, This Sauvignon clone  has been growing at Regaleali since the First world war. It was soft, fruity and beautiful and I am not even a huge fan of Sauvignon. Tearing myself away from tasting wines from Regaleali, I did a tasting of their wines from Etna. I was particularly taken with one of them called Buonora. Made with Carricante, it was rich and sapid with loads of minerality. I also love their version of Nerello Mascalese from Etna, known as Il Tascante. It had depth and layers of nuanced flavors much like a great Pinot Noir. It was elegant with finesse as well.

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Before I write more about other Tasca wines, I want to mention that  Tasca is at the head of a group of wineries working on a project called SOStain hat is involved in protecting the environment. When I first wrote about the project, there were maybe 10 wineries involved. Alberto Tasca told me in March that they are now over 35. I counted 37 on their website for the Fondazione which just held its’ first symposium this past year. if memory serves.

The mission of the project is to promote sustainable agriculture. Tasca is convinced that the responsibility of each producer is to make great wine and to protect the land and the local flora and fauna while doing so.

At one event I attended, Alberto Tasca d’Almerita showed a film I just loved about his family but I can no longer find it on the website. At a certain point in his speech, Alberto said the following line which I really appreciated as well, “We didn’t receive the gift of our lands from our fathers but as a loan from our children/Non abbiamo ricevuto la terra in eredita dei nostri padri ma in prestito dai nostri figli.” 

4 Three more wines which I must mention are  their Riserva del Conte, Contea di Sclafani D.O.C. made from 67% Perricone and 33% Nero d’Avola. The grapes are vinified together with ambient yeast.  The wine then ages in 500 liter wooden barrels made from Chestnut wood for 26 months.

 Rosso del Conte is their flagship “SuperTasca.” Count Giuseppe planted vineyards of Perricone and Nero d’Avola in 1954 with a desire to create a wine to rival  French wines for both their elegance and longevity. The true expression of their family and their terroir. It spends 18 months in 100% new French oak (Allier & Tronçais) 225 liter barrels and 6 months in bottle before being released. According to their exhaustive website, it is  made from a selection of best Nero d’Avola grapes (63%) and other red vaieties among those authorized by the DOC (37%). I always find it a sensual wine with sweet tannins and a long finish.

The last wines to mention are from their incredible estate Capofaro on Salinia. I went on an amazing sailing trip to Salina but didn’t get to Capofaro. I hope to spend time there one day. Their amazing Malvasia are always the perfect ending to these exquisite tastings. They have two and every year I try to decide which one I like better. One is sweeter, Malvasia Capofaro and the other Didyme which I was told means twins but is also the ancient name for Salina . It is dry with great acidity.

Tasca also makes interesting wines with Cabernet Sauvignon, Grillo, Grecanico and Syrah which I have tasted but the ones I mentioned were my favorites among their very vast range. I am an unabashed fan of this fantastic Sicilian winery and I look forward to my next mega tasting. of Tasca wines, wherever and whenever that will be.

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The commitment to sustainability focuses on a wide ranging number of areas that include energy, water, soil measures as well as viticultural and cellar practices, packaging requirements, biodiversity both plant and animal, and equally important human and social capital requirements.

Happy New Year to all and enjoy reading about other wineries from Sicily or other’s take on Tasca as well in the below blog posts by my fellow virtual travelers this Saturday with the #ItalianFWT group. We will be chatting on Facebook live today at 11:00am, join the conversation.

If you can’t make it, read through these amazing posts at your leisure to feel that Sicilian warmth and all the passion these wines evoke:

5 comments

  1. We first visited the winery in 1993 and stayed for a week. We drank the Rosso Del Conte from the 1985 & 1988 vintage when it was aged in botti made from chestnut and it was a great wine. Two years ago I had the 1988 again on two occasions and it was still wonderful. Thanks for bring me up to date on the winery in this very informative article.

  2. I remember Alberto speaking at the Wine Media Conference about SOStain. I need to go back and look at my notes again from that session! I would love to taste more of their wines. I will be on the lookout for those you recommended!

  3. I also opened a Tasca for this month’s theme – a Nero d’Avola from their Regaleali estate. Didn’t catch (until now) that the winemaker on their Regaleali team is a woman. Brava!

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