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Paolo Bea's Sicilian Project: Il Censo is Back!

Posted by Mark Grimaldi on Apr 9th 2020

Paolo Bea lovers, rejoice! We're so excited to bring these wines in. If you are new to Bea's lineup of wines, or have been hesitant to pull the trigger on his main label from Umbria (they can get pricey), here is a chance to try one of his consulting projects from Sicily. See below for some backstory, as well as some great tasting notes under each wine. Enjoy!

If you’ve been receiving these emails for any significant amount of time you know how much we love the wines of Paolo Bea. Now in the hands of Paolo’s son Giampero, the estate is responsible for some of our favorite wines in all of Italy.Actually, they’re some of our favorite wines in the world. The Beas more or less single-handedly resurrected the winemaking reputation of their native Umbria. And over the past few years Giampero has begun to get involved in projects in other regions of Italy, which means we get to drink wines from a master winemaker made from varieties and regions all up and down the boot. We’re excited to share the Sicilian project he collaborates on, Il Censo. With Giampiero's help, they’re turning out crazy good wines from previously-unknown grape varieties at incredible prices.

Western Sicily, where Il Censo is located, is a bit of a hinterland viticulturally. Not much wine from this part of Sicily makes it to the States. Il Censo, with the help of Bea, is showing this region's amazing potential. Almost every region in Italy has native varieties that you don’t find anywhere else, and western Sicily is no exception. Here you find grapes that thrive in the warm climate, namely Cataratto, Perricone, and Nero d’Avola. Combine these unique varieties with the Bea stable of techniques – spontaneous fermentation, extended skin contact (even for the whites), long elevage in big old oak vats, and minimal sulfur – and you get something we haven’t quite seen before. Il Censo combines the rustic elegance of Bea’s Umbrian wines with a sunny fruitiness all their own. There is absolutely a 100% Bea "imprint" on these wines. Like that deep fruit concentration we love from Bea, beautiful dusty, velvety tannins, without requiring the age that sometimes a Bea wine can require.

Il Censo is a collaboration between Giampiero and longtime family friends Gaetano and Nicoletta Gargano. The Il Censo estate is in western Sicily near Palermo and has been in Gaetano’s family for over 200 years. He and his wife Nicoletta moved back there about a decade ago. Although the estate had a history of growing grapes, very few were planted when the Gaetanos returned. The land was dedicated primarily to grains and olives. With Giampiero Bea's help, they began to replant the estate vineyards to the varieties native to the region.

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Wines arrive Friday of next week.

1) Il Censo Cataratto "Praruar" 2016 750ml
Sale Price: $28.99/btl! BUY NOW
3-Pack Price: $26.99/btl!
6-Pack Price: $24.99/btl!

"The native Catarratto thrives in the flint-rich volcanic soils found at Il Censo. This 2016 “Praruar” (Sicilian for “toward gold”) spent three weeks macerating on its skins, and its luscious, thick mouthfeel balances beautifully with cleansing acidity and a blast of spices. This was aged in steel with no temperature control, where it clarified naturally without fining or sterile-filtering." - Neal Rosenthal

2) Il Censo Perricone "Njuro" 2016 750ml
Sale Price $32.99/btl! BUY NOW
3-Pack Price: $29.99/btl!
6-Pack Price: $27.99/btl!

"The Il Censo Rosso “Njuro” splashes into the glass with a storm of dark garnet and purple hues. Like most of my favorite wines from Sicily, this is neither a delicate nor understated wine. On the contrary, it’s a fire-breathing beast; a mouthful of brambly dark fruit, blueberry, sour cherry, raspberry leaf, fennel, shattered lava stone, exotic wildflowers and north African spices. Its palate dominates with black currant, pomegranate, wet roses, fresh grape stems, and a solid wall of deeply mineral tannins." - Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier

3) Il Censo Nero d'Avola "700" 2015 750ml
Sale Price $32.99/btl! BUY NOW
3-Pack Price: $29.99/btl!
6-Pack Price: $27.99/btl!

The “700” refers to the meters of altitude at which the Nero d’Avola at Il Censois planted. This wine offers a beguiling combination of plushness and tension, with fruits in the dark-red part of the spectrum, and plenty of driving energy. Nero d’Avola can often be one-note even when it is perfectly delicious, but not here, as this inaugural vintage shows the true potential of Il Censo’s terroir for the production of great red wine." – Neal Rosenthal