Arianna Occhipinti is without doubt one of the world’s most exciting and frighteningly talented winemakers. Inspired by a visit to Italy’s largest wine fair with her winemaking uncle Giusto (of Sicilian star producer COS) when she was 16, she enrolled in winemaking school at 18, and released her first vintage in 2006, made from one hectare of vines essentially in the family’s back yard- aged 21.
Since then she’s made waves. She’s generally considered to make ‘natural’ wines, but as you’ll read below, it’s a little more complicated than that. What is straightforward however, is that her wines are ridiculously delicious and complex. Their purpose above all else is to express the place that they come from, and they do this with remarkable style. This vintage, the 2016, hasn’t been reviewed yet but is a triumph. I’ve used notes below on the 2015, but I think this might well be even better. Bright, elegant, and tremendously easy to drink.
“Arianna Occhipinti's wines have reached spectacular new heights with this set of new releases.” Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate
“These are exemplary wines, naturally made, and showing finesse and interest.” Jamie Goode, The Wine Anorak
2016 Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Rosso, Terre Siciliane, Sicily
Lovely aromatics here: pure and bright with elegant, fine cherries and plums. Very pretty. Bright and floral with crunchy raspberry notes. 93 pts.(2015), Jamie Goode, The Wine Anorak
The Arianna Occhipinti 2015 SP 68 represents a blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato. I am impressed by this wine. It shows a solid approach and good foundations that put it into a class of its own among natural wines. Wild berry and cassis aromas are presented but you also get subtle tones of anise seed and dark cola. Dusty and elegant mineral notes also appear. In its essence, this wine is very elegant and feminine. 92+ pts.(2015), Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate
Bright crimson. Firm dry texture but somehow very fluid. Peppery, light smokiness. Energetic, fluid and full of pure dark-red fruit. 17/20 pts. (2015), Julia Harding MW,
More about the Wine:
I should confess that I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘natural’ wine movement in general. It’s not that I have any problem whatsoever with people making wine in any way at all, in fact it’s the opposite. I’ve had many delicious natural wines, but the only thing I dislike is that some proponents are somewhat dogmatic about the whole thing, suggesting that those that don’t follow the principles of natural winemaking are doing something ‘wrong’.
To be frank, I don’t really care whether a wine is ‘natural’ or not. I don’t actively look to attend natural wine tastings or seek out natural producers, I just want to find the best and most interesting and characterful wines I can at the best prices. The rest is noise.
I think I have an ally in Arianna on this front though, as she puts it …
"I make natural wine, but this is a term I'm beginning to be less and less comfortable with, because its implications are very complicated. I really want to stress that my main goal is to make a good wine that reflects where it comes from … in those early years I definitely had a more militant attitude about it. Making natural wine was a mission, something worth fighting for. Now that I've grown up a little bit, the mission is making wine of terroir.”
When put like this, what’s not to love? I found this incredibly moreish, a wine where the last sip was the best, which is always a good sign to me.