Wine Region of the Month – Sicily
Posted on 06 April 2021
If, like us, you’re committed wine and food lovers, then the sun-drenched plains are home to some of the finest fish dishes, olive oil, and vineyards in the whole of Italy.
Sicily’s impressive history has included invaders, traders and settlers including Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Vikings. They’ve all left their cultural, architectural and culinary mark on the island. But you can’t stray too far from the natural resources of abundant sunshine, low rainfall, and the well-stocked Mediterranean Sea. Fish, olives, and citrus fruits dominate the plate, whilst the climate also makes for ideal conditions to grow and ripen good yields of grapes.
Sun Drenched Vineyards
The possibility to consistently ripen high yields of grapes was not always a good thing. The second half of the 20th century saw subsidies from the Italian government to produce more yield, which unfortunately meant quality suffered. From the 1990s onwards, however, this process is reversed and even the previously unheralded native grapes, like the red wine grape Nero D’Avola and the white wine grape Cataratto, are beginning to produce high-quality wines that would grace any dinner table.
Mountains and Valleys
Sicily’s vineyards are dotted all the way around the island, but mostly three clusters exist around varying degrees of dramatic mountain ranges. The North East is dominated by the slopes of Mount Etna and this is now one of the most sought after viticultural areas in the whole of Italy. In the South-East the Iblei Mountain valleys and plains are home to Sicily’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo Di Vittoria. In the West, the flatter mountain ranges and coastal regions are famed for the higher volume production, but also the lesser spotted Marsala wines that keep threatening to make a comeback.
Wines to Look Out For
The most planted grapes on the island remain Nero D’Avola and Cataratto. Nero D’Avola is now known to be capable of producing deep coloured, fuller-bodied reds with plenty of concentrated red fruit and spice. These make fabulous everyday drinking wines. But for those looking for something a bit more special, it’s Mount Etna that really piques the interest of wine lovers around the world right now. Often labelled solely Etna Bianco DOC or Etna Rosso DOC, these can be varietal or blended wines of serious quality.
Why Not Try?
Nero D’Avola by Mezzogiorno £64.98 for a case of 6
A fabulous weekday sipper from one of the most progressive wine brands on the island. The fruit and spice of this wine can complement a variety of meals including roasted or grilled meat and fish.
Syrah Lumà by Cantine Cellaro £88.09 for a case of 6
Cantine Cellaro is based in the region of Sambuca di Sicilia, but fear not, this is not the flaming liquor. These guys and girls use both local and international varieties and have one of the most respected experimentation programmes on the island. This Syrah is characterized by its bright ruby colour, dark fruits, and lifting violet petal aromas.
Nerello Mascalese by Centopassi £22.08 for a bottle
Dense and complex organic red wine filled with plums, black cherries, and strawberries. Made by Centopassi, one of the groups of Libera Terra co-ops, reusing land confiscated from the mafia. Nerello Mascalese is a true Sicilian grape and works brilliantly with the local wild game and aged cheeses.