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Wines from Sicily

The largest island in the Mediterranean offers, given its vast territorial heterogeneity, a very rich and varied production of Sicilian wines, today in extraordinary development. Alongside the most representative indigenous grape varieties such as Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Nerello and Perricone for red wines and Grillo, Catarratto, Carricante and Zibibbo for white wines, international varieties such as Syrah are also cultivated with great success. On the strength of a thousand-year-old, hybrid tradition that has benefited from multicultural techniques and influences, the producers are demonstrating exceptional vitality. In addition to the more established names, such as Marsala in western Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG in the Ragusa area, Etna DOC on the steep slopes of the volcano and Passito di Pantelleria, the growing appreciation of all the typical and characteristic features of the island has made Sicily one of the main and most surprising wine regions in Italy.

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The largest island in the Mediterranean offers, given its vast territorial heterogeneity, a very rich and varied production of Sicilian wines, today in extraordinary development. Alongside the most representative indigenous grape varieties such as Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Nerello and Perricone for red wines and Grillo, Catarratto, Carricante and Zibibbo for white wines, international varieties such as Syrah are also cultivated with great success. On the strength of a thousand-year-old, hybrid tradition that has benefited from multicultural techniques and influences, the producers are demonstrating exceptional vitality. In addition to the more established names, such as Marsala in western Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG in the Ragusa area, Etna DOC on the steep slopes of the volcano and Passito di Pantelleria, the growing appreciation of all the typical and characteristic features of the island has made Sicily one of the main and most surprising wine regions in Italy.

The Many Different Wine-Producing Areas of Sicily

The region offers an extraordinary variety of terroirs, grape varieties and traditions. By way of example, the regional territory could be divided into a western area, roughly corresponding to the province of Trapani, the hinterland of Palermo and Monreale, also including the Egadi Islands and Pantelleria; an eastern area corresponding to both Messina and Catania, including the slopes of Mount Etna, one of the most suitable terroirs in the world for wine production and, finally, a southern area, namely the provinces of Siracusa and Ragusa, where we find the beautiful vineyards of Noto, Pachino and Vittoria, which give rise to important red wines and the only DOCG in the region: Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

The territory of Marsala is home to one of the most famous expressions of this wine at international level: a liqueur-like nectar produced from white grapes typical of this area overlooking the sea. In the rest of the province of Trapani, including the Egadi Islands, Sicilian white wines  of a high expressive level are produced, characterised by rich marine, Mediterranean and aromatic herb scents, based mainly on Grillo, Catarratto and Zibibbo grapes. This last, very aromatic type, also called Moscato di Alessandria, is used on the island of Pantelleria to produce one of Italy's most important passito sweet wines. In the countryside surrounding Palermo, in particular in the territories of Monreale, Camporeale and in part of the area defined by the Contea Sclafani DOC, full-bodied red wines are typical, in addition to white wines, produced from both native and international varieties such as Syrah and Merlot.

The eastern territory is dominated by the very high Etna volcano, locally defined with the significant nickname 'the mountain', which today represents one of the most exciting and important wine centres in the world. Further north we find, overlooking the sea, the territory of Messina with its ancient and prestigious Mamertino di Milazzo and Faro DOC denominations, mainly based on local red grapes. The southern part of the island is home to Nero d'Avola, which is best expressed in the Eloro and Pachino DOCs in the province of Syracuse, and which, in combination with another local variety called Frappato, gives rise to Cerasuolo di Vittoria in the province of Ragusa, the only DOCG in the entire region. Alongside these macro-areas, which can only be roughly defined, there are other areas that contribute to the extraordinary richness of the island. These include the Madonie, high mountains in the centre of the region where the vineyards reach up to 900 metres above sea level, and the Aeolian Islands, famous for their aromatic nectars based on Malvasia delle Lipari but also for very mineral, saline and Mediterranean whites and reds.



From the Beach to the Mountains: All the Regional Pairings

The wines of Sicily are generally characterised by their exuberant and very expressive personalities. They therefore lend themselves very well to the pairings offered by a complex and articulated regional cuisine that is always very tasty. Given the natural wealth of the island, but also its immense heritage of traditions and characteristics, they can be paired with a wide range of dishes, from land to sea, without forgetting cheeses, olives, sweet and sour vegetable dishes, street food and desserts. White wines based on Grillo, Carricante or Catarratto, especially if they come from a maritime terroir, are an excellent accompaniment to seafood: sardines, crustaceans, seafood, octopus, squid, swordfish and salmon fillets. The richest interpretations can be paired with some very tasty dishes such as: pasta with sardines, spaghetti with squid ink or sea urchins, Trapani-style couscous, swordfish rolls, baby meatballs, sardines a beccafico and others. These whites can also enhance the many vegetable-based dishes, from pasta with broccoli, cucuzza lunga or tenerumi to fennel and orange salad. The fresher, lighter reds are excellent companions for sweet and sour vegetable dishes, including the famous caponata and aubergine rolls, as well as other typical dishes such as pasta alla norma, baked anelletti, lentil soup and red onion salad. As far as street food is concerned, arancine (fried rice balls) with meat sauce or butter, sfincione, panelle (fried bread) and crocchette (croquettes) can be equally good. The combination with pani ca' meusa or stigghiola is more difficult, so we recommend a good Cerasuolo di Vittoria that is dry, round, delicately fruity but with structure and substance.

The fuller-bodied versions go mainly with meat, but also with cheeses such as salted ricotta, pecorino and smoked provola. Etna Rosso DOC, made from Nerello Mascalese, deserves a separate mention, with its fresh, tannic and volcanic personality. Because of its innate elegance combined with complexity, it can accompany both important red meats and cheeses as well as some more delicate dishes such as Nebrodi black pork salami or even fillets or carpaccio of red tuna. The many aromatic expressions of Sicilian wine, such as Zibibbo Secco or Malvasia, are excellent with prickly pears, melons, fresh almonds, carobs, black mulberries, fruit jellies or cheeses such as caciocavallo or baked ricotta. Intense passito wines, such as Pantelleria or Malvasia delle Lipari, go well with blue cheeses or with the vast range of typical desserts: cannoli, cassate, dried fruit, martorana fruit, almond paste, torroni, sfince di San Giuseppe, caramelised almonds, croccanti and much more. Marsala is excellent with cheeses if dry, otherwise with cocoa desserts such as torta setteveli, savoia, bersaglieri biscuits and chocolate from Modica. As always, the most important labels are for drinking and therefore can be enjoyed on their own, without accompaniments.

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