Mango, papaya, a spritz of lime, candied ginger and wet stone...opens up like a bountiful harvest of tropical fruits. This is soft-textured and leans much more on purity than its nose would lead you to think, as citrus-tinged apples and apricots cascade across the palate. Floral perfumes define the finale, which is spicy and pungent, but also classically dry.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, and, with its 329,000 vineyard acres, Italy’s largest wine region by acreage and the quantity of wine produced. Nevertheless, only 2.1% of all Sicilian wine is DOC, or wine made according to appellation standards. Until the 1970s Sicilian wine grapes either went to make Marsala, the sweet dessert wine introduced by 18th century British wine merchants, or to cooperatives that specialized in bulk wine production. But in 1968 Sicily was awarded its first DOC, which was the Etna DOC on the southern slopes of Mt. Etna, and today there are 19 DOCs. Along with the Maremma on Tuscany’s western coast, Sicily is considered the most exciting winemaking region in Italy. Longtime family agricultural estates are being turned into high quality commercial wineries, and because land prices are low compared to other parts of Italy, enterprising young winemakers and viticulturalists – many of whom practice organic and sustainable farming – have started wineries in Sicily. Marsala is still produced, and the Marsala business is one reason why 60% of Sicily’s vineyards are planted to Catarratto, the white grape used as a base for Marsala. But dry white wines are made from Inzolia, Malvasia, Zibbio and Chardonnay. But it is Sicily’s big, complex red wines that are grabbing the attention of wine enthusiasts. Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most common red grape, and it produces rich, somewhat spicy wines. Other red grapes are Nerello Mascalese, Frappato and French varietals.