Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last night, over a simple meal of pizza and wine (naturally), my thoughts turned to the region where the wine came from -- Sicily.

Sicilian wine has had a bad reputation in past years; they produce a relatively large volume of wine, most of which is jug-wine quality whites (only 1.5% of Sicily's nearly 300 million gallon production comes from DOC plots).  So, fine wine producers from that region don't get a ton of respect; it's sort of like saying, "hey, we've got this fine wine, grown right next to where they make Carlo Rossi."  Sicilian winemakers are well-known for their progressive nature; they're big users of alternative closures (Stelvin and VinoLok, although it wouldn't surprise me to find a Zorked wine from Sicily as well), and they're not hidebound to tradition in their grape selection and winemaking methodology -- the attitude is generally "let's make good wine for a good price."

The most famous wine of Sicily is Marsala, but with that fairly out of fashion (it's too sweet -- perhaps a post for another time should be done on how "sweet" doesn't mean "bad," but not now), I'll concern myself more with the dry reds here (oddly enough, red wine is only 5% of Sicilian production).

Probably the best-known Sicilian varietal is Nero d'Avola (the "black [grape] of Avola").  It's not unlike a good syrah -- slightly peppery, spicy, with smooth rich tannins, and enough acidity to compliment many foods.  In fact, it was a Nero that prompted this post.  Nero d'Avola shouldn't be too expensive -- $20 at retail would be too much, and the Nero I drank last night was like $8.

You'll also find Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet amongst the Sicilian winemakers' arsenal -- like I said, not hidebound to tradition, they're not afraid to grow French grapes in Italian soil.  The Syrahs, especially, tend to be good, as the climate is not dissimilar to that of the Rhone.

So, next time you're looking for value in a wine that's from a bit off the beaten path... remember that Sicily is more than just the soccer ball that the rest of Italy kicks around!

1 comment:

  1. I am hoping to go on a trip this fall to check out Italy. Never been there, but can't wait to see how their wine scene differs from ours. I'll make sure not to forget the soccer ball! :)