by Malcolm Jolley and Zoltan Szabo

Francesca Planeta acts as her family's roving ambassador and is part of Le Donne del Vino

The charming and eloquent Francesca Planeta, of the eponymous Sicilian wine house Planeta, was in Toronto recently for Le Donne del Vino (or “The Women in Wine”) event. Lucky for Zoltan and me, the equally charming and eloquent Roberto Martella managed to get Segnora Planeta to host a dinner of Sicilian inspired, locally procured dishes showcasing the wines below at his restaurant (and centre of Italo-Canadian culture) Grano. Zoltan has supplied the tasting notes below, which include the 2009 Casa Planeta Syrah, which crazily good value at $11.95 in the LCBO’s “general list” shelves (i.e. the regular part of the store, not Vintages).

While guests mingled over glasses of the Segreta Bianco, I was able to steal a quick pre-prandial interview with Ms. Planeta, whose father Diego is considered one of the pioneers and trail-blazers of the modern, craft wine industry on the Isle of Sicily. In fact, Planeta’s success in the 1990s and early 2000’s with both “international varietals” and indigenous grapes is widely thought to have inspired the wave of estate and artisanal wines coming out of the whole of Southern Italy. I asked Planeta what she and her family thought if this. She replied they were quite proud and that she remembered a time when the rest of Italy, let alone the world, would not have thought much of Sicily and it’s wine and food (the Planetas also make a delicious green and grassy olive oil). “Now,” she said with a broad smile in perfect Italian-accented English, “we are having our revenge!” Luckily, it’s sweet for all.

Francesca Planeta’s mother-in-law hails from Toronto, so she was quick to point out that Planeta’s IGT Rosé would make an excellent match to Thanksgiving Turkey. I am more than inclined to agree, although I have always maintained that the introduction of gravy to the bird gives one license to pair beyond lighter styles of wines and think the Casa Planeta Syrah would do very nicely as well.

Zoltan’s Notes…

Segreta Bianco 2010 IGT, Sicily, Italy
Made from 50% Grecanico, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier, and 10% Fiano grapes, coming from estate vineyards located (mostly) in Ulmo, surrounded by the La Segreta woods. This is a medium bodied and fresh white, with aromas and flavours of savoury lemons, honey and white – fleshed tropical fruits, and subdued mineral nuances. Perfect pairing with grano’s tuna carpaccio & caponata. ($16.95 – Contact Halpern Wine to order)
4 apples out of 5

Rosé 2010 IGT, Sicily, Italy
100% Syrah, with red berry and stewed rhubarb notes; fuller – style, yet refreshing and finishes with orange toffee and deep fried herbs – oregano tones. ($16.95 – LCBO #111865)
4 apples out of 5

Casa Planeta Syrah 2009 IGT, Sicily, Italy
Medium – weight and black fruits – driven, plums and dried herbs, supple and easy – drinking, and wait, it’s $11.95 at your local LCBO. ($11.95 – LCBO #219857)
3.5 apples out of 5.

Syrah 2005 and 2007 IGT, Sicily, Italy
The earlier is extremely refined, raspberry, red plum and bush herbs accents, with beautiful freshness and delicate tannins, and long – lasting, spicy finish. The later is fuller and fleshier with supple texture, rich blueberry – blackberry fruit core and well integrated – dusty tannins. It was a great experience tasting them side – by – side with grano’s lamb loin and Sicilian eggplant roll. (Contact Halpern Wine for ordering information)
5 apples out of 5

Passito di Noto 2009, Sicily, Italy
100% Moscato Bianco grapes from the Noto DOC. Honeyed fruits and floral, medium bodied, appealingly sweet, but not cloying, fresh with a long and smooth, ripe orange – tangerine – tainted finish. An excellent match with cassata siciliana. (Contact Halpern Wine for ordering information)
4.5 apples out of 5.

All scores are out of five apples. Find out more about Planeta, including their boutique hotel at

Read more of sommelier Zoltan Szabo at and follow him at Malcolm Jolley is the founding editor of Good Food Revolution and a food and wine writer based in Toronto. Follow him at