The sun-drenched region at the foot of the metaphorical boot, Sicily is an island of contrasts. Not least in the field of viticulture. Large, ultramodern wine companies and small traditional winegrowers stand side by side in a brotherly manner. Sicily has been one of the largest wine regions in the country since time immemorial. Unfortunately, the vast majority of production is never bottled, but evaporated to concentrate or burned to industrial alcohol. This is not to say that there are no quality wines available. On the contrary! Although the island has the most vineyards (130,000 ha.) In all of Italy, it ranks third in production in hectoliters after Apulia and the Veneto. This is due to a drastic reduction in production in the vineyard and the use of modern vinification techniques in the cellars to optimize the quality of the wines.
More information about Sicily
Although almost 75% of winegrowing in Sicily is in the hands of cooperatives, we are now also seeing an increasing number of individual producers devote themselves to producing quality wine. Unfortunately, only a small part of the wines from these producers fall under a DOC classification, of which the island has 19. For the time being, many fine wines fall under the IGT di Sicilia classification, the largest of the 7 IGTs on the island, but this may change in the future. Indeed, there are serious plans in the making for setting up one overarching DOC. But just like in Tuscany, these individual producers have already found the deserved recognition through other channels. Among them wines from Corvo, Regaleali, Donnafugata, Florio, Pellegrino and Rapitalà.
The wine with which Sicily has become known is of course the Marsala. The port city of the same name in the far west of the island, where many peoples have anchored over the centuries, owes its name to the Arabs who proclaimed the city 'Marsah-El-Allah' or 'Port of God'. About two centuries ago, the production of Marsala started here under the guidance of English merchants. Not surprisingly, the wine quickly gained international fame, starting in England. Originally a dry sherry-like wine, but over time the Marsala has been introduced in many sweet varieties. When the trend for sweet wines declined somewhat, the original variant experienced a revival. The dry version shows similarities to Sherry because of the production method (Solera system) and some sweet versions are more in line with Port. Despite all outside criticism, the Marsala has always remained Sicily's proud number 1 and is still made in several versions. The main base for the wine are the white grapes from the Cataratto and the Grillo, and the blue grapes from the Nerello Mascalese, Pignatello and Calabrese for the Marsala Rubino.
What wines are made in Sicily?
DOC Alcamo includes white, red and rosé wines, of which the pale, bone-dry Bianco d'Alcamo was the first to receive DOC status. Among the relatively new DOCs of the Contessa Entellina, Eloro, Menfi, Sciacca, Sambuca di Sicilia (not to be confused with the anise liqueur of the same name), Contea di Sclafani and Santa Margherita Belice, various promising wines are made, both red and white and rosé wines. . Grape varieties used are the Nero d'Avola, Pignatello, Frappato, Sangiovese and Perricone for the red wines and Inzolia, Grecanico, Ansonica and Catarratto for the white.
Sweet wines come from the small islands to the southwest and northeast of Sicily: On Pantelleria, a small island not far from Tunisia, the Moscato di Pantelleria is made. A rich sweet wine that ranks among the best sweet Italian wines and is made from partially dried Moscato grapes in the Naturale and Extra Passito version. The Malvasia delle Lipari comes from the Liparic Islands northeast of Sicily. A rare dessert wine from the Malvasia grape, which produces a very delicate wine on the volcanic rock of the islands.
Naturally, various grape varieties are also grown on the slopes of Mount Etna. Fresh white wines come from the Carricante, Catarratto and Trebbiano; warm, full-bodied red or rosé wines, mainly from the Nerello Mascalese. The white wines are good accompaniments of grilled fish and white meat, while the reds are often consumed with pasta dishes with a rich meat sauce, various stuffed vegetables (eggplant) and mutton or goat meat. Both wine types fall under the DOC Etna.
Although the emphasis is nevertheless on the production of quality wine from indigenous grape varieties, more and more often, with good results, experiments are being conducted with foreign grape varieties such as the Chardonnay, the Sauvignon and the Pinot's under the white grapes and the Cabernet Sauvignon among the red grapes. The fact that large wine companies elsewhere in the country are currently investing heavily in the viticulture in Sicily indicates the great potential of the region.