Wine of the week: a cosmic red from a vinous necromancer

This Sicilian red is a smorgasbord of delicious flavours, says Matthew Jukes.

2010 Il Passo, Nerello Mascalese, Vigneti Zab, Sicily, Italy (£13.99,; Field & Fawcett, 01904-489073; Noel Young, 01223-844744).

I am going through a very exciting Italian phase right now and it is the perfect time of year to roll out a few sensual, unique, striking reds for you to savour.

Valentino Sciotti (of Vesevo fame) spotted the extraordinary Zab property on his travels and realised that it had superb vineyards and a decent winery, but it was sorely lacking in the kind of magic which he dispenses with aplomb, like a vinous necromancer.

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He and his team have now changed all of that. Made from young Nerello Mascalese and Nero d'Avola vines, grown on the hills around Lake Arancio in Sambuca di Sicilia, this is the most impressive modern Italian red of the moment.

Valentino's trick is to allow the grapes to dry naturally in the hot Sicilian sun, so that they concentrate their sugars a touch. He then makes this cosmic red in the usual way only with a longer maceration on the skins to extract delicious, plush notes.

It is bottled after six months ageing in barrique, which is pretty short, so it doesn't mark the wine too much. Hey presto, you have a stunningly luxurious, mouth-coating smorgasbord of black plums, root liquorice, blackberries, espresso beans, tar, violets and balsamico. It is a terrific wine.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.