Sipping Sicily: A Conversation with Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais of Tenuta Rapitalà

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From www.blackdresstraveler.com, by Wanda Mann
Sipping Sicily: A Conversation with Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais of Tenuta Rapitalà

  IMG_8018"If you drink Rapitalà, you are drinking Sicily from a French point of view."
Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais, President, Tenuta Rapitalà 

Charmingly referring to himself as the "first blend" produced by his Sicilian mother and French father, third-generation winemaker Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais of Tenuta Rapitalà is a serious wine producer with an endearing sense of humor.

One of Sicily's most important wineries, Tenuta Rapitalà is truly a marriage of cultures. In 1968 French-born Count Hugues Bernard de la Gatinais married Gigi Guarrasi from Palermo - Laurent likes to say that his mother imported his father to Sicily! His parents inherited the Guarrasi family estate that had been destroyed by an earthquake and together they rebuilt the winery and replanted the vineyards. In 1976, the first harvest destined for bottling was made and Rapitalà was the first winery in Sicily to plant French grapes like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Rapitalà means "Beautiful Garden of God" and the elegant and expressive wines they produce live up to this celestial name.

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Laurent and captured our conversation on video. Watch the video to hear Laurent describe his family's legacy and the terroir & winemaking style of Tenuta Rapitalà. Featured in the video are three wonderful wines from the Tenuta Rapitalà portfolio.

Tenuta Rapitala GrilloTenuta Rapitalà Grillo Sicilia D.O.C. 2014 ($13) is an absolutely delicious white wine that is produced from Sicily's indigenous Grillo grape. The same grape used to produce the fortified wine Marsala, Laurent describes Grillo as a "coin with two faces." A refreshing white wine with great acidity and minerality, Laurent describes Grillo as a great summer wine that is on the same flavor spectrum as Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Albariño.

Tenuta Nero D Avola
Tenuta Rapitalà Campo Reale Sicilia D.O.C. 2014 ($13)
Laurent describes Campo Reale as the "true flavor of Nero d'Avola." Unlike many winemakers that overripen this red grape to produce very aggressive wines, Tenuta Rapitalà picks Nero d'Avola when it is fresh, but not too ripe, to produce a more graceful wine that displays spiciness, balsamic notes, ripe red cherries, and gentle tannins.

Tenuta Nadir
Tenuta Rapitalà Nadir Syrah Sicilia D.O.C. 2013 ($17)
Laurent describes Nadir as "very deep, as if you were diving into the flavor of the Syrah." Rich and elegant, this complex wine has flavors of spices, berries, chocolate, and coffee. Powerful but controlled, Nadir is a beautiful introduction to Tenuta Rapitalà's artful approach to international varieties.

Rapitala Winery

If you're planning a trip to Sicily, Tenuta Rapitalà welcomes visitors (reservations required.) I promise that you will enjoy some truly beautiful wine and if Laurent is there, you are guaranteed to laugh!