Arianna Occhipinti has become a seminal figure for a new generation of wine lovers. Her rise to prominence has been meteoric, and rightfully so: anyone who has ever met Ari will instantly vouch for her charming personality and seemingly boundless energy.
Arianna is the niece of Giusto Occhpinti, whose COS wines are undisputedly amongst the very best of Sicily. In 1998, Giusto invited her to help him out at Vinitaly for four days. Arianna was 16 at the time and knew nothing about wine; the experience was such a good one that she decided to study viticulture and oenology in university. This quickly proved counter-intuitive, since everything she had learned from her uncle (organic viticulture, hand-harvesting, native yeast fermentations) clashed with what she was being taught in school.
Undeterred, Arianna started making her own wine with just one hectare of abandoned vines in the commune of Vittoria. Over the years, she has progressively expanded the estate by replanting 10 hectares of the region's indigenous Frappato and Nero D'Avola in selection massale. A few years later, she was able to start renting 50 year old Frappato and 45 year old Nero D'Avola vines, both independently bottled as single varietal/vineyard cuvées. In 2012, an additional eight hectares of 19 year old vines were acquired, which for the time being will be used to produce more of her "SP68".
Continually pushing things forward, Arianna built herself a new cellar in 2014, a huge step up from the cramped, chaotic space she used to work in. Besides the obvious advantage of having more space, it has permitted Arianna to start a new regiment of concrete fermentation and aging for both "SP68"'s, which used to to be produced in stainless steel and fiberglass. Some of the tanks are glass lined, some aren't. They are all 2mx2m, and with the way they are set up, the juice can be worked by gravity.
60% Zibibbo (Muscat di Alessandria)/40% Albanello. From certified-organic vines, averaging 20+ years old and planted on chalky, sandy soils. The bunches are harvested by hand, destemmed and co-fermented spontaneously with native yeasts in concrete tanks. Maceration lasts approximately two weeks. The wine is aged in concrete tanks for 6 months and bottled unfiltered. Sulfur use is modest. "SP68" is the Strada Provinciale 68, the country road on which the Occhipinti winery and home vineyard lie.
Importer notes: "60% Zibibbo/40% Albanello. The two varieties are native to Sicily--Zibibbo is more widely known as Muscat of Alexandria--and are grown on red sand soils over limestone rock, with vines averaging 15 years old on two different sites. The grapes are co-fermented and aged in concrete tanks. Bottled unfiltered. 'SP68' is a road near Arianna's Vittoria estate which lends its name to her flagship white and red."
Producer: Arianna Occhipinti
Varietal: Muscat di Alessandria, Albanello
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