The World In Wines – Sicily
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Tags: Desert wine Enjoy wine Italian wines Marsala Nero d' Avola Sicily
Over the years, one of the many things we’ve really enjoyed about traveling is the opportunity it has given us to explore and appreciate exciting foods and the diverse wines of the country or region we were visiting.
This exploration has led to us develop a real passion for wine. Although this has become a somewhat expensive hobby, coming to appreciate wines of the world has also given us the freedom to travel and explore amazing and sometimes obscure corners of the world without ever leaving the comfort of our own living room or patio. No, we’re not talking about “beaming up” to Piedmont “a la Star Trek”! But if you can’t actually get to Piedmont, exploring the terroir with your taste-buds may be the next best thing.
If you’re willing to invest a little time to develop your palate and tasting skills, we believe a good bottle of wine can be a truly transformative and sensory experience. It can take you back to the vineyard where the grapes were born, and allow you to feel and experience the terroir the way it was when the grapes first came to life. Lets call it “Theatre of the Mind….. and Nose”!
When you think of Italian wine, what comes to mind? To many it’s a superb Barolo from Piedmont, a complex Super Tuscan, or a feisty Brunello di Montalcino from Central Italy. Perhaps it’s a crisp, fresh Prosecco from the Veneto, or a golden white Frascati from Lazio. These are all excellent choices in their own way, but today let’s head to the south of Italy and explore something a little different. The island of Sicily.
Think “Mediterranean Romance”, where vineyards, olive trees, rugged coastlines and sunshine abound. Sicily has always been Italy’s largest wine producing region but today it is also Italy’s most vital and improved wine region. What was once was all about “quantity” is shifting to “quality”, with their Nero d’Avola grape leading the way. Here are some of the favourites. Try them, and spend the evening or afternoon on the beautiful island of Sicily….
Marsala: Probably still Sicily’s most famous wine, this distant cousin of sherry is made from Grillo and Catarratto grapes grown in Sicily’s Trapani province. It is said to have been created by Englishman John Woodhouse in the 1700’s, and sold as a fortified wine in Britain. Although it’s had it’s ups and downs since then, it still maintains it’s popularity in many markets. It comes in three colors: oro, ambra and rubino, three sweetness levels and five levels of aging: fine (one year), superiore ( two years), and reserve ( four years), vergine ( five years) and vergine stravecchio ( ten years ), so there is a choice for just about any taste!
Moscato di Pantelleria: Speaking of dessert wines, this gem is actually made from grapes grown on the small volcanic island of Pantelleria. Historically called “Muscat of Alexandria” it was brought to the island by the Phoenicians; the grape is now called Zibibbo. “Hedonistic” may be the best way to describe this delicious nectar. The best Pantelleria we have found to date is called Bukkuram. It is very hard to find, but is so well worth the effort!
Nero d’ Avola: If you are looking for a robust table wine that won’t break the budget, this may be the varietal for you. Also called Calabrese, this grape produces wines with intense color and real depth. It can be a little rough around the edges at times, but if you want a rich red with your steak or roast and don’t want to fork over $50.00 plus for a Barolo, give it a try. We find it similar to a Primitivo on the mainland. Think chewy.
So crack open a bottle, let it breathe for a while, and enjoy the flight. Cin cin and alla salute!