What is the name of the largest island in the Mediterranean? Exactly. Sicily. The lean soils, volcanic rocks and hot, dry climate are perfect for growing vines. And the desire for diversity in winemaking is also undiminished in Sicily and more than ever.
Bollicine. Sweet. Oxidative. Fresh. Fruity. With depth and in all colors. If you are looking for every imaginable wine style in one place in Italy, you will find it in Sicily. With around 112,000 hectares of vineyards, Sicily is also the largest wine-growing region in Italy, similar in size to Bordeaux.
It is therefore surprising that Sicily is still considered a great unknown by many wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Is it because of the strange names of the grape varieties? Zibibbo (Muscat d'Alexandrie), Frappato, Perricone and so on? Or the fact that the same grapes result in different styles of wine? The late-ripening Catarratto grape, for example, can be used to make acidic and fresh white wines, but at the same time it finds its destiny in the legendary Marsala, alongside the Grillo, Inzolia (Ansonica) or Damaschino varieties. Confusing, admittedly. It is also surprising that in the dry and rather hot area more white wine is produced than red wine.
From the textbook we can see that in Sicily there are 24 DOC zones and only one DOCG zone, which is called Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Here, in the territories around Ragusa, Caltanissetta and Catania, red wines (Nero d'Avola and Frappato) are pressed that can boast of decades of aging. At least as well known are the sweet wines (Passito) of the small volcanic island, Pantelleria, which is also counted as part of Sicily, although geologically it sits on the African continent. And while we are at it: also there, under the denomination of origin, still white wines, sparkling wines, semi-sparkling wines, sweet wines or liqueur wines may be produced.
Vines are also found on the slopes of the highest and most active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna. In Etna bianco DOC, the white grape variety Carricante plays the main role. Nerello Mascalese, the most relevant red grape variety on Etna, produces amazingly delicate, elegant wines at higher altitudes, reaching up to 900 meters above sea level, which, depending on the aging, could almost be considered "Burgundian". The Nerlello Mascalese is often blended with Nerello Cappuccio.
The Sicilian Prince, also the name given to the Nero d'Avola, is and remains the most planted grape variety of the island in terms of quantity, known here and there also under the name Calabrese. The prince has many names, at least 25 others are known for the grape variety. Today, it is often blended with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon in Sicily, producing velvety, spicy wines. Sicily remains a bottomless pit in terms of diversity. Let's go and explore it!