Sicily & Pantelleria
In the last few months, we have really enjoyed learning more about about the wines from the Italian islands of Sicily and Pantelleria. We have tasted some amazing bottles along the way so thought it was a good opportunity to share some of our findings;
The sun-soaked island of Sicily boasts a remarkable array of wine styles that reflect its diverse terroir and rich winemaking traditions. From the complex, volcanic reds of Etna, to the deep and intense Marsala, a fortified wine with centuries-old history, Sicily's wine repertoire is captivating. The indigenous grape varieties like Nero d'Avola, Catarratto, and Grillo contribute to red, white and skin contact wines that embody the island's unique character. With a resurgence in quality-driven viticulture, Sicilian natural winemakers are crafting wines that balance tradition and innovation, offering a taste of the island's varied landscapes and cultural heritage in every sip.
We currently have 3 quite different expression of Sicilian Grillo in stock;
Marco De Bartoli - Vignaverde 2022 - Youthful and fresh white wine from one of longest running organic wineries in Sicily. Salty peaches with a candied lemon finish.
Manlio Manganaro - Grillo Bianco 2021 - Delicate but complex white wine made with a little skin contact. Manlio is a very small scale producer in Campobello di Mazara, Marsala.
Nino Barraco - Bianco G 2021 - 100% organic Grillo grapes from one of the island's most esteemed producers. More on him shortly.
In the north-western part of the island between Trapani and Palermo, Alessandro Viola produces fresh and elegant wines thanks to the cooling influence at this elevation. We currently have the following in stock;
Alessandro Viola - Note di Rosso 2020 - A juicy red blend made from Nero d'Avola, Nerello Mascalese and Perricone. Medium bodied with a floral and herbal edge.
In the Western town of Marsala, famed for its long history of exporting fortified wines to Britain, natural winemaker Nino Barraco is doing something different. He wants to showcase the region's ability to produce terroir-driven wines that represent a more authentic take on Marsalan culture. We currently have the following in stock as well as the previously mentioned Bianco G 2021.
Nino Barraco - Catarratto 2021 - A rich and round natural wine with a smoked apricot and mineral character
Nino Barraco - Catarratto Altogrado 2015 - A very special bottle from the cellar. Marsala how it used to be! Very ripe grapes were selected and aged in chestnut barrels for 7 years that weren't topped up. This deliberate oxidative winemaking technique results in a deep and intense wine with dried fruit and nutty flavours.
The lesser known and remote Pantelleria is nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Known for its rugged beauty and unique geographical features, the island boasts a diverse landscape of volcanic craters, thermal springs, and striking coastlines which in turn produces some highly unique wines. Pantelleria's history is rich and layered, influenced by a mix of cultures including Phoenician, Roman, and Arab civilizations.
Zibibbo, the local name for Muscat (Moscato) is the speciality of the island. Natural winemakers such as Marco Bartoli, Tanca Nica and Gabrio & Giotto Bini regularly use skin contact techniques but this can create a range of different styles. We currently have the following expressions in stock;
Marco Bartoli - Integer 2021 - Complex, textured orange wine with apricot, citrus and a refreshing green note running throughout
Bbirbiciù - Testa di Ghiaca 2021 - A wild orange wine with high intensity of dried fruit and spice. Again, aged in amphora.
Tanca Nica - Terra Forte 2021 - Deep and intense skin contact wine with orange marmalade, bergamot aromas and a savoury finish. Made with zero sulphur.
Gabrio & Giotto Bino - Serragghia Bianco 2021 - Incredibly elegant and precise skin contact Zibibbo aged for 7 months in underground amphora vessels. No added sulphites.
The island is also famous for producing sweet wine from the Zibibbo grape in a style known as Passito. Grapes are dried on racks outside to concentrate sugar levels before the tiny amount of sweet juice is finally pressed out.
Francesco Ferreri & Nicoletta Pecorelli of Tanca Nica prefer to create a sweet wine by an almost forgotten ancestral method of drying the grapes on the warm Soki Soki soil floor in order to achieve further ripeness. They then allow the wine to stop and start fermenting a number of times throughout the year by keeping the juice in glass demi-john vessels that remain outside, exposed to the changes in climate. They call this Passulata and you can grab one of these special bottles with their signature hand painted design here;
Finally, one of the most unique wines we have ever tried. In 2021, Tanca Nica and Nino Barraco joined forces to create a wine dedicated to the history and culture of the the Strait of Sicily, the passage of water between the two islands. Nino's Cattarrato was re-fermented with he aforementioned sweet Passulata to create an incredible sparkling wine with wild and un expected flavours;