Sicily Wine: White Wines and Varietals
A specialty of the Etna region, this grape grows at high altitudes (up to 1,050 m/3,450 ft) and is one of the oldest Sicilian varietals. Often blended, it can yield wines with surprising longevity and scents of citrus blossoms, anice and white fruits, with strong acidity and subtle minerality.
This varietal, often joining Grillo in Marsala blends, is indigenous to the western Trapani province and is actually a family of close cousins with great names like “Cattaratto Mattu” (the crazy one), “Lucido Serrato” (the bright, tight one), and “Fimminedda” (the womanly one). Only recently vinified alone, it gives a deep straw-golden wine with a complex fruity nose, good acidity and a warm, full-bodied and dry taste. Some versions are wonderful after aging.
Grecanico Bianco or Dorato
Often compared to Sauvignon for its strong aroma, Grecanico is often used for blending with other autochthonous grapes, or even for sparkling wines or vermouths. Used alone, it yields an amber-toned wine with strong grapey scents along with floral and sweet peach notes.
An autochthonous white grape, grillo’s bold structure makes it essential for creating Marsala wine. Often blended with Inzolia or chardonnay, increasingly winemakers are daring to use it alone to make a crisp, balanced wine ideal with appetizers and fresh fish.
Another of Sicily’s key white grapes, it’s been exported to mainland Italy where it’s better known as Ansonica. It’s often blended with Grillo or Catarrato grapes, but when vinified alone (as for many DOC regions) it yields a straw-gold wine with hints of green and an intense nose of fresh and tart fruit as well as grassy, herbal and mineral notes, harmonious and with a strong, balanced acidity. It also pairs superbly with appetizers, seafood and lighter pastas.
A vino liquoroso made near the eponymous town from vintner’s choice of white catarratto, grillo, inzolia and camaschino, and red perricone, Nero d’Avola, nerello mascalese varietals (whew!), with the possibility of adding grape ethyl alcohol and cooked grape must.
Zibbibo (Moscato di Alessandria)
This intensely aromatic and sweet wine is cultivated only on the island of Pantelleria to make Moscato di Pantelleria DOC, and can be vinified as an unusual dry white (an intriguing aperitif wine) or, most frequently, as a honey-golden, deliciously concentrated passito when left to dry on the vine. Dried apricots, dates, figs, or jammy tastes prevail, and at its best this is a dessert in itself!
About the Author
Christina Cain first crossed paths with B&R a decade ago in Italy, and we haven’t let her out of our sights since. She now harnesses the expertise she gained while guiding a couple trips (and by “a couple” we mean about 70) into crafting exceptional adventures as one of our Private Trip Designers.
Grillo image: Wikimedia