Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is my favourite wine on earth. Period.
What is Occhipinti SP68 Bianco?
Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is an Italian, skin-contact white wine made with a blend of albanello and Zibibbo (also known as moscato de alejandría) grapes, both of which are native to Sicily. The wine takes its name from the location where it’s produced, just off of SP68 in Vittoria. Organic and biodynamic, the SP68 Bianco is made from grapes harvested by hand and fermented with their native yeasts. It’s then aged for 6 months in cement tanks and bottled unfiltered.
Azienda Agricola Occhipinti, the winery where Occhipinti SP68 Bianco is made, is named for its founder, Arianna Occhipinti. After studying under her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns and runs COS, another noteworthy Sicilian winery, Arianna Occhipinti founded her own winery in 2004 at the age of 22. Over the last decade, she’s become known as a pioneer in biodynamic winemaking.
Why I love it
As a food and drink writer, I’m lucky enough to regularly sample some really great wines. And in four years of trying really great wines (plus plenty of other years drinking cheap bottles from the LCBO), the SP68 Bianco has been the only one to stop me dead in my tracks.
Sipping this wine was the first time I fully understood terroir — the idea that the land and climate where the grapes are grown impart the finished wine with a distinctive, local character. SP68 Bianco had this clean, mineral flavour that gave me the sense that I was really tasting the red sand and limestone Sicilian soil in which its grapes are grown. It was aromatic, earthy, and fresh. I loved its golden yellow colour, which somehow made it seem richer and more potent than the pale whites I often found myself drinking.
After some inquiring with the sommelier about the price and availability of the wine (the answers were expensive and hard-to-find), it became my white whale white wine. Once, while visiting some friends in Ottawa, I convinced them to drive across the border to Quebec to visit an SAQ where the SP68 Bianco was occasionally available (alas, it was out of stock that day). I’ve spent hours Googling the possibility of shipping it from faraway places and changed entire evening plans when I’ve spotted it on the back bar at a restaurant.
If I didn’t already love this wine enough, later learning that it’s produced by a female winemaker only heightened my obsession with it. Winemaking continues to be a male-dominated industry, particularly in Old World winemaking countries like Italy, so I love knowing that this wine, in a small way, is breaking down some of those barriers.
There are many reasons why I’m happy that restaurants and bars in Ontario will now be allowed to sell liquor on a permanent basis, but I’m most wildly excited about the fact that it’s made the SP68 Bianco much easier to find.
It’s usually priced between $45 and $55, so it remains a splurge I reserve for special occasions (although considering I enjoy it 1000x more than any $100 bottle I’ve tried, the price is still a bargain in my books). I think its fresh, balanced flavour makes it a crowd-pleasing fancy bottle for gifting and hosting. Share it, treat yourself with it, and if it doesn’t meet the high expectations set by this 500-word ode, come find me because we are going to fight about it.