During dinner recently with friends at Park City's newest Italian restaurant, Al Dente, we enjoyed a somewhat unusual wine: d'Alessandro Nero d'Avola/Syrah ($35). The wine comes from the southern coast of Sicily, near Agrigento. d'Alessandro is a new winery, founded in 2006, which takes advantage of technological innovations such as solar panels that harvest the energy of the sun. A young, dynamic winemaking team combines with centuries of family tradition to produce wines that are simultaneously old and new. The winery, located just outside the city of Agrigento, sits on historic property that has been in the d'Alessandro family since 1820.
d'Alessandro Nero d'Avola/Syrah is a blend of those grapes: 65% Nero d'Avola and 35% Syrah. "Black of Avola" in Italian, Nero d'Avola is the most common red-wine grape in Sicily and an important indigenous varietal of Italy. It's somewhat similar to New World Shiraz, producing intense, dark (almost black) wines of great depth. Combined with Italian Syrah, this is a powerful, slightly smoky blend, aged in oak barrels for eight months before bottling, and is very tasty paired with cured meats (think: Creminelli) and hearty, grilled-beef dishes. It was excellent with Al Dente's filetto Piemontese.