Sicily: The Wines You Can’t Refuse

Sicily: The Wines You Can’t Refuse

Since practically the beginning of time…

The Romans (then the Italians) have been toying with the idea of building a bridge over the Straits of Messina to link the island of Sicily with the mainland. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe never will.

This makes a visit to Sicily a bit of a hike, but one that’s well worth taking, especially since there are direct flights from Rome to three of the island’s major cities. The scenery is incredible — there are more Greek temples in Sicily than in Greece itself — and the wines are spectacular – especially the varietals you never heard of.

Over the last 30 years or so, the Sicilians have started making great wine. In fact, Sicily is one of the two largest wine producing areas in Italy. If you really want to pick up some great bargains, look for the wines made from grapes that are indigenous to the island.

While tie island makes big, bold, buttery Chardonnays that everyone seems to like, the big fun is in the reds. At the Las Vegas wine tasting in February, one of my favorites was our Nero d’Avola from Sicily.

Nero d’Avola

Nero d’Avola, as the name indicates, is native to Avola in the extreme southeast corner of the island, near Siracusa. However, the grape is now grown everywhere, and just about every Sicilian producer makes it. The good news is, no matter which kind you buy, it’s probably going to be good. Since I sample so widely (ahem…) I’ve tasted Neros from many of the major producers, and never met one I didn’t like. The wine has an intense ruby color and flavors of dark fruit, earth, and aromatic herbs. It’s a big, satisfying wine, and great with grilled meats.

At the eastern end of the island, the still-active volcano of Mt. Etna broods over the landscape. It’s 10,000 feet high, snow-capped all year round, and emits a steady column of white steam into the deep blue sky, just to let us know it’s not dead yet. (It’s one of the world’s few continuously active volcanoes). On the eastern slope the Nerello Mascalese grapes grow, and while we might never think to walk into a wine store and ask for a bottle, maybe we should.

Often blended with other wines, Nerello Mascalese makes a great quaff in its pure form. Medium bodied, spicy, and with strong notes of deep fruit, violets, earth, and forest floor, it’s a bit like Cabernet Sauvignon, and pairs well with steaks, chops, and other hearty meats.

We’re working to bring you even more incredible wines from Sicily and the rest of the world as well.

So get in…get wine…and get social!

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