In the ten years since starting her own label, Arianna Occhipinti and her unforgettable Sicilian wines have come to represent a new generation of wine growers; those focused on natural principles, experimentation, and a sense of honesty, self-expression, and irreverence.
Mentored by her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, whose COS wines (also imported by us!) are regarded as some of the best in Sicily, Arianna quickly rejected the principles taught at her viticulture/oenology school. Instead followed her own intuition combined with her uncle’s age old artisan methods: organic/biodynamic farming, spontaneous fermentations, extended skin macerations, and overall minimal intervention in the winery. Arianna started with just one hectare of abandoned vineyards in Vittoria and eventually replanted ten hectares to the region’s indigenous grapes, Frappato and Nero D’Avola, later renting vineyards of old (45-50 years old) vines of the same varieties. Several years later she acquired seven more hectares of 19 year old vines.
The Occhipinti label has continued to grow, along with a second label, Tami, intended as intro wines for a new generation of wine drinkers, and priced accordingly, and stocked in the retail shop of the same name that Arianna co-owns in Siracusa. In 2014 a new Occhipinti cellar was built, allowing Arianna to work with gravity fed concrete tanks for the fermentation and aging for her SP68 range (which were previously in steel and fiberglass).
Occhipinti wines have always retained a strong sense of place (after all, wine should be the “mirror of its place”, as Arianna so eloquently puts it in this video), a sense of elegance and restraint, and an enchantingly perfumed floral/fruity character. They are a breath of fresh area in a region still dominated by powerful, over-cooked reds and forgettable whites.
Here’s what Arianna had to say at the Real Wine Fair 2016 about her wines, her terroir, and what “real wine” means to her: