Nero d'Avola is a red wine grape varietal - thought to be the most important red wine varietal in Sicily - Italy. Pronounced 'Neh-roe Dah-voe-lah' and translates to 'The black grape of Avola' in Italian. Nero d'Avola is one of Italy's most important indigenous varietals - and named after Avola, a small town situated in the far south of Sicily.
Up to the 1980s, commercial use of Nero d'Avola was dedicated almost exclusively to fortifying weaker red wines in northern Italy and in France. Used to add colour and palate weight to lighter reds, prompting some French producers to nickname it 'le vin medecine'.
In the past Nero d'Avola, like other Sicilian reds, was often syrupy, with an alcohol content reaching 18% Alc. - too strong as table wines, but very suited to making Marsala.


With new viticultural techniques - such as night harvesting - placing the grapes in cooled stainless steels tanks to prevent premature fermentation - have been used to retain flavour without producing an overpowering wine. The result is often compared to Syrah wines, made in the 'New World'.
Boasting a singular climate, Sicily is blessed with consistent growing seasons, typified by lots of warm sunshine and very little rain. Vintage quality varies, of course, but not as much as it does in say Piedmont or Burgundy.
In Sicily, Nero d'Avola is also known as 'Calabrese', - which is likely to be an 'Italianization' of ancient vernacular name of Nero d'Avola, being 'Calaurisi', which literally means 'coming from Calabria'. As recently as the 1980's, plantings of Nero d'Avola were declining in Sicily - as many growers switched to international varietals thought more commercial. But now Nero d'Avola is coming back (as of 2015 with approximately 16,600 ha planted) as the native grape earns a growing reputation in its own right, making wines from 100% of the varietal rather than blended wine styles.
The vine likes hot arid climates - and make a rich, perfumed and velvety red wine that is easy to drink, works well in blends with other varietals, and can benefit from the careful use of oak, and able to age for quite a few years, although most are good drinking upon release.