Summer is getting into full swing and there may be no better way to celebrate than with a glass of Sicilian wine. This is the last article of the month’s series on Sicily. In the earlier posts you’ve learned that Sicily has nearly 90 native grapes….wines that you’ll not see anywhere else in the world. This article, however, features grapes that were not birthed on the island but all have a Mediterranean heritage.
The Queen of Sicilian grapes, Catarratto is grown all over the island (it represents nearly one-third of all wine grapes planted). It is the mother of the wonderful native Grillo grape which was discussed last week. One sip of Catarratto and you’ll see their resemblance: lemon zest, intense oranges & fragrant citrus blossoms. But, that’s only part of Catarratto’s charms.
Catarratto also entices with flavors of peaches and apples. It’s a dry, light-bodied wine that offers moderate alcohol levels, thus it makes for a perfect interlude to a summer’s supper. Since it doesn’t have a lot of tannin, it works well as an aperitif but it can certainly swing to a first course like a shrimp appetizer. Look no further than Donnafugata’s Anthilia, or Graci’s Etna Bianco (a blend of Catarratto and Carricante).
This white wine screams SUMMER. Zibbibo, the father of the Grillo grape, is a member of the aromatic grape family of Muscat. Zibbibo on Sicily can be made dry or sweet, but this article will focus only on the dry version. With its fragrant profile of honey, peaches, white flowers, and even lychees might make one think that a dry Zibbibo had some sugar, but the aromas fool your senses.
A glass of dry Zibbibo is a perfect aperitif. It’s not a serious wine, but it’s a wine that many adore just by itself….or perhaps with a little something like Sicily’s wonderful almonds while watching the sunset. Donnafugata’s Lighea is a great example of a terrific Zibbibo aperitivo, as is Rallo’s Quasar.
A Sicilian antipasti buffet awaits
Insolia is a white grape variety grown in both Tuscany and Sicily. Until recently, Insolia was used primarily on Sicily in making Marsala. It is known for its nutty flavors and citrus profile. Modern Sicilian winemakers, however, are rethinking Insolia. The grape is now being blended with others such as Chardonnay and the results are stunning. Cusumano’s Angimbe is my favorite of the new renditions, and for <$20, it’s a real warm weather charmer.
Have a magnifico summer!