A Ripping Bottle Of Occhipinti ‘Siccagno’ At Palazzo Salato
— Updated on 30 June 2023

A Ripping Bottle Of Occhipinti ‘Siccagno’ At Palazzo Salato

— Updated on 30 June 2023
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

This June, in a pretty sizeable departure from our usual format for ‘Liquid Intel’  — wherein Randy, our resident wine & spirits columnist gives you a trio of the best bars, bottles, and DIY cocktail recipes he’s sampled inside the previous month we’re paring things right back to a single recommendation. This week it’s a 2020 Occhipinti Siccagno Rosso.

As with wit, so too is brevity the soul of a good F&B plug. Enjoy.

Last week (as I’ve already had the pleasure of doing on a few occasions since the venue opened) I ducked into Palazzo Salato for a friendly catch-up over platefuls of spaghetti alla chitarra and a generous splash of plonk.

To be clear: the reason I’ve opted to include Love Tilly Group’s urbane new trattoria concept isn’t for the purposes of a review.

Coverage in that vein has been written ad nauseam since Palazzo Salato opened its huge portcullis-shaped doors in May; it can hardly come as a shock (to anybody who enjoys the ritual of dining) that a restaurant whose chief specialisms are pasta and wine is proving such a big hit for the Sydney CBD brigade. But I’m already getting sidetracked — let’s talk beverages.

Pictured: With its 120-seat capacity and Gramercy Tavern-esque bar counter, Palazzo Salato offers a fun, charged atmosphere that’s much different to that of Ragazzi, its spiritual predecessor.

Big on differential formats and Coravin serves (à la Armorica) the wine programming at Palazzo Salato is one element I’ve wanted to canvas in further detail since I first visited. Jade Febvre, the Love Tilly crew’s Group Sommelier, has put together an exciting list that cleaves in the direction of character and approachability.

Following the requisite number of cocktails that are acceptable in polite society (i.e. 2-3) I got a sense of just how fun Febvre and her cohorts want the act of drinking to be with a bottle of 2020 ‘Occhipinti Siccagno Rosso’ ($182) — from the prodigiously restrained hands of Arianna Occhipinti.

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(Image Credit: Randy Lai // @styleternity)

Already a star with a devout following in the (now-pretty-legit) universe of natural wine, there’s no need to regurgitate all of the good things that have been said about Occhipinti. What is essential to comprehend however is the love and immense pride she has for her native Sicily.

All of the young vigneron’s bottlings — be they the SP68 that’s perfect if you love red Beaujolais or this even smaller production of ‘Siccagno’ — come off of an estate totalling 18 hectares, high above sea level in the southeastern town of Vittoria.

Overwhelmingly, the land Occhipinti and her team tend is planted to Frappato and Nero D’Avola; both iconic Sicilian varietals that speak further to her desire for wines that carry an indelible sense of terroir no matter where they’re poured in the world.

Occhipinti Siccagno

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That’s this Occhipinti Siccagno to a tee: made exclusively out of vivacious Nero D’Avola grapes from two dedicated vineyards in Arianna’s stable (between these, the vines are a good three decades old), this is a bottling that is certainly ‘easy to drink’ — one of the most tiresome throwaway compliments one can give a great glass of wine — but never ever boring.

As interesting as it is delicious, Occhinpinti’s lens on Nero D’Avola has been made with her trademark absence of intervention. And that certainly shows.

Crunchy red berry fruits and balsamico sit happily alongside earthy flashes of black rubber and ash — the telltale whispers of a production process where nature has been allowed sufficient purchase (and the tinkering done by human hands involves a dash of sulphur during bottling).

Granted, it’s not the only reason to revisit Palazzo Salato. But by God does it get me excited about the prospect of rounding up a posse of like-minded drinkers.


Occhipinti ‘Siccagno’ Nero d’Avola 2020

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Average retail price (ex. GST): $86

Varietal: 100% Nero D’Avola

Region: Vittoria, Sicily (IGT Certified)

Notes: Sweet berries, sour cherry, caramelised balsamic, ash, tire rubber

Structure: Light-to-medium bodied

Food Pairin: Spanner crab mafaldine ($38); Roman-style tripe ($19)

Specs (for nerds): Made on two vineyards 280m above sea level; matured in Slavonian oak for 16-22 months; spontaneous fermentation; approximately 25-day maceration; no fining or filtration.

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Randy Lai
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Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].

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