Having just returned from a visit to Sicily, I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce you to some of the island’s great wines. Truth is, I spent my time in Ragusa. And while I could write a whole tome on the wine, people and places I saw, that would be very Wine 301 – and we’re not going there yet.
Sicily, of course, is the giant island that lies off the toe (across the Strait of Messina) from the Italian mainland. In many ways Sicily is its own place, happy to go its own way according to its own rhythms; but when it comes to wine, there is something that is innately and undoubtedly Italian about Sicily’s finest.
“Etna is the scribe of viticulture with all the soils of the earth and the climate of three continents,” said Dario Cartabellotta, director of the Institute Vite e Vino.
While so much of the wine world’s attention has been focused on the vineyards that line the slopes of Mount Etna, the truth is that Sicily itself is world of wine unto itself. Yes, Etna is producing some of the most exciting wines in Sicily; but they have no monopoly on excitement. In fact, each of the nine provinces of Sicily has made great strides, over the past decade or so, towards producing wines that can compete with the world’s finest.
While Nero d’Avola has emerged as the leading and most familiar grape of the island, it’s also the grape that has been most widely planted and to a certain extent, stripped of its uniqueness as producers all over the island try to cash in on its popularity. Now I’m not going to say, “Ignore Nero d’Avola.” There are many great examples after all, but I will say explore what each province has to offer, what each province does best, what each province calls its own!