At one time, not long ago, Sicily, produced a lot of uninspired bulk wine that found its way to France, northern Italian, and occasionally also to Germany red wines.
Now, with a lot of effort and considerable investments, Sicily produced much better wines, but also a lot of bulk wine.
The secret is to know where the best come from and the wineries that pay special attention to quality.
Sicily is a large island with a decidedly Mediterranean climate that varies throughout the landscape.
Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanos, in the north-eastern part of the island,and produces very fine red wines from nerello mascalese, nero d’Avola, nerello montelatto, perricone, frappato, clabarese, and nerello cappuccino that are grown on the slopes of the mountain’s volcanic soils. Some farmers are experimenting with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir and syrah on high altitude vineyards.
Chardonnay, and grillo are the proffered grape varieties for white wines.
The wines smell of berries, offer peppery flavours, and pleasant acidity that make them “sing”.
Quality oriented growers plant on altitudes ranging from 500 to 1000 metres above sea level where the climate is similar to that of northern Italy and even Burgundy farther north. Viticulture at these altitudes requires more attention to detail; yields are smaller than those from lower altitudes, and labour requirements higher.
The first Etna wine I tasted baffled me. It tasted more like red Burgundy from a ripe vintage.
Young, well educated winemakers, and smart money investors are moving Sicilian viticulture forward in general, Etna wineries in particular, slowly but surely.
There are several producers:
Tenuta delle Torre Nere, and Giovanni Scilio are only two of them.