A very long time ago my mother used to buy very special dried apricots at Christmas. I think they came from Australia. They were enormous, at least, if not three times larger than any other dried apricots that I’ve ever come across. They were as fleshy as they were enormous, squidgy, gooey, firm and dense. They had been sweetened so that they had so that the sharpness of the original fruit was tempered by an extraordinary toffee-ish richness that sent wave after wave of apricot flavour surging through my mouth. Or so my memory says, because it’s many years since I saw one, let alone ate it.
But I was reminded of that exquisite balance of sweetness and apricot, power and elegance, refinement and voluptuousness as I sipped Zhabib, a vino passito from Ustica. It’s made with organic Zibbibo grapes in very small quantities on the Azienda Agricola Longo. Half with grapes have been dried, and half undried. The acidity of the one gives a freshness to the honied concentration of the other. There’s peach and almond and fig as well as apricot, if you want to wax lyrical. This is quite the finest sweet wine I’ve tasted in years.
The estate also makes other fine wines – L’Isola Bianco, L’Isola Rosso, Grotto dell’Oro – but the Zhabib untaps the memory, and, more rarely, creates another as powerful.
Azienda Agricola Longo, C. da Tramontana, 90010 Ustica (Pa). info@agriturismohibiscus