A Tale of Three Neighbours Chapter Three: Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti

My Sicilian Trilogy ends with one of the most interesting female winemakers that I know.

As I arrived at Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti at the turn of February and March 2018, from the very beginning I was pretty sure it won’t be an easy visit but thankfully I was completely wrong. A first few minutes of conversation was like Arianna’s wines: austere and challenging, but with time – full of delightful energy.

Meet & Greet with Arianna Occhipinti

Arianna is a niece of Giusto Occhipinti, another famous winemaker from Vittoria (a co-owner of COS winery about which I wrote some time ago). Having received a good lesson from her uncle, she decided to take her own path and to make wines in her own style.

You can guess the style she embraced just by looking at her mansion. Modern, but noble simplicity based on natural, raw materials dominate in her house, which, in fact, is bonded with old winery and cellar by meanders of staircases and corridors. The entire complex is an interesting and undoubtedly successful marriage of traditional and modern architecture.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Here is the place when they eat and, during the harvest, select grapes. The excess juice flows to the gutter in the centre.

By looking at Arianna’s estate you can also guess the keyword of her winemaking, which could be “a purity”. It’s not only about clean, organic farming and winemaking, without the use of chemicals. It’s the (obvious for Arianna) part of her lifestyle. Purity, in this case, means the acceptance of the unique character of grapes and the decision to treat them in a subtle way.

Below you can see my four favourite expressions of three red (Frappato, Nero d’Avola and their blend) and one white wine (a blend of Albanello and Moscato d’Alba) below. Of course, by now new vintages (and new contradas) are available.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Unoaked ones:
SP68 Rosso 2016: 70% Frappato, 30% Nero d’Avola, just like in Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG; sandy and limestone soils; herbs, cherries, red orange, pronounced acidity and light tannins
SP68 Bianco 2016: Albanello+Moscato d’Alba from sandy soils; flowers, white pepper, rosemary, salt, skins of apples, pears and oranges,, soft tannins, pronounced acidity, deepness of umai taste
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Slightly oaked ones:
Il Frappato 2014: leather, herbs, black pepper, round and subtle
Siccagno 2016: smoke, blackberries, vibrant acidity, refined tannins, elegance

Arianna’s style of winemaking stands on the contrary to the philosophy of neighbouring COS winery where wines predominantly undergo a long maceration on the skins. This and maturing in amphorae make COS wines the rich, dizzy stunners. Nevertheless, thanks to terroir, Arianna’s and COS’s wines share certain elegance and freshness.

Some numbers and facts for geeks

Arianna produces about 140 000 bottles every year, 20 000 of which comprise the white wines. Wines under Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG amount to 4000-5000 bottles.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
The cellar. Poor light, mi scusa. I and Photoshop did our best.
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Salt comes out of the wall.

The winemaking process is quite simple. Wines undergo spontaneous fermentation. After that, white wines are macerated for about 12 days and red wines – 12-15 days. Arianna uses concrete vats (100% in case of SP68 Bianco and Rosso) and neutral, steam-bent Austrian, 300-litres barrels as well as French and Slavonian ones.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Experimental riserva wines.

And, oh, she also produces her own pasta and two delicious kinds of olive oil from up to 600 years old olive trees! Self-efficient woman? Yes. Absolutely.

When we met, Arianna told me about her then-new projects. She was planning to produce wines from three different contradas (crus): Bambolieri, Pettineo and Fossa di Lupo. As I can see, wine from these parcels are on sale, but haven’t tried them yet. Have you? Let me know.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti
Your must-try.

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