This takeaway. The wines of Sicily are so varied, I’m not sure people realize it. Sicily is its own country and the flavors, the terroir, the food and the wines are different. In the land of Tasca, Nero D’Avola is king, but Perricone, Catarratto, Pinot Noir and Syrah also hold their place at the table. On Etna, Nerello Mascalese is the dominant grape, but Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante, Alicante and Grenache have established themselves on the fiery mountain. On the Aeolian Islands, Malvasia tangos with the smoldering hills. Near Ragusa, with the blindingly white soils, Nero D’Avola also has established itself while Carricante, Albanello, Frappato and Chardonnay have dug in as well. All this to say Sicily isn’t just Nero D’Avola. And Nero D’Avola itself has many expressions, Gulfi winery being a fine example of the diversity of the grape from one Contrada to another.
One need only drive through the vineyard lands of La Muntagna — as the Sicilians call Mt. Etna, to see the clos-like walls of volcanic soil that remind me of Burgundy. The walls, not the dark stones. But there is a closed-system inside this world that makes for a concentration of greatness. I had to see it for myself, and now I am a believer. That Albana di Romagna is a DOCG and Etna isn’t is a travesty. This area is like the Valtellina, like Valle D’Aoste, like many extreme growing regions that produce radical flavors and delicious, tasty wines. Who needs France, who needs California? I daresay, who needs Italy? One could spend a lifetime alone with the wines of Sicily and never have the urge to get off the island. The bench is that deep. It’s just that these wines haven’t been coming to America for very long; it isn’t that the winemakers haven’t been plying their trade, albeit in a fashion of their own. They won my heart many years ago. And they won it again this last time. Sure, I’m not going to stop drinking Champagne or Barolo, but if I had to limit myself to a metodo classic brut made from Nerello Mascalese or a Nero D’Avola from Tasca, like the Rosso del Conte, or a red from Etna, I could easily make that sacrifice.
On to the wines ( and other libations)...
Tasted in Palermo
|Nerello Mascalese metodo classico brut from Murgo|
|Benanti Biancodicaselle Etna Bianco|
|Nino Barraco's senza solfiti Grillo "Vignamare"|
|Kellerei Kaltern Campaner Sudtiroler Gewurztraminer, why not?|
|Salvatore D'Amico Malvasia delle Lipari Passito|
|Zio Toto's thirst quenching mandarini verdi di Sicilia in background |
and granita di limone in front - photo by Manuele Laiacona
Tasted at Tasca D'Almerita's Regaleali
|Regaleali Catarratto "senza solfiti"|
|Rosso del Conte 2008 ( and 1990)|
|The lineup at Regaleali tasting (four of the five properties)|
|100% Pinot Noir, metodo classico rosė|
|Corrado Maurigi's pet project on Salina, a dry Malvasia "Didyme"|
|Salvo Foti's I Vigneri wines|
Tasted at Chiaramonte Gulfi ( in bottle and in barrel) with Salvo Foti
|Azienda Agricola Gulfi organic wine lineup|
|I Custodi Etna (illegal label) Carricante (70%), Minnella, Grecanico|
|Sfuso 12 from Corrado Dottori - Organic white from Le Marche|
written and photographed (unless otherwise noted) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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