Sicily wine region
Sicily is today the fourth-largest wine-producing region of Italy, which is itself the largest producer in Europe. A decade or two ago Sicily was far and away the largest producer in the country. Yet the island was known chiefly for hot, over-baked bulk wines and Marsala - Italy's answer to sherry. Much of its vast output was distilled into brandy or industrial alcohol.
Much has changed: Sicily is now Italy's most innovative wine region. Partly this is due to the absence of prestigious appellations, which has allowed Sicilian winemakers freedom to experiment. International varieties like Shiraz flourish here, often blended with local grapes like the Nero d'Avola. Other winemakers have championed Sicily's unique local varieties: the red Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and aforesaid Nero d'Avola, and the white Catarrato, Grillo and Carricante.
Sicily's mountainous terrain is key to this transformation. Low-lying areas are scorchingly hot but altitude changes everything, providing a bewildering array of different microclimates. Despite the differences in temperature, everywhere in Sicily is dry so vine disease is not a problem.
Sicily’s best known red variety is its native Nero d’Avola, a rich and intensely flavoured grape that is grown everywhere but is most revered around Agrigento in the south. Another red gaining a reputation is the fragrant and tannic Nerello Mascalese, which is confined to the high-altitude, cool-climate areas on and around Mount Etna in the northeast.
The white Cataratto and Grillo were the main grapes of Marsala, but today are being used to produce increasingly interesting dry whites. Grecanico is another white that has developed a following, though it isn't as local as was once thought - recent DNA profiling has shown it's identical to the Garganega used to produce Soave in Italy's northeast.
Decanting Club wines from: Sicily
Murgo, Etna Bianco
Murgo, Etna Rosso
Accademia del Sole, Nero d'Avola
Tenuta di Fessina, 'Erse' Etna Rosso
Costanza di Mineo, Cor Leon, Petit Verdot
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