Sicilian Trio

Free tasting | Friday, July 12, 2019 | 5-7PM

Photo Credit:  Forbes .

Photo Credit: Forbes.

Sicily has been a buzzword in wine and wine tourism, specifically in the US, for the past few years. Most trends in wine (I’m looking at you rosé and ‘orange wine’), seem to come full circle. The Sicilian wine industry has had its ups and downs, but today, Sicily is hotter than Etna. (By hotter, I mean trendier, not hotter as in global warming, however, Sicily has had some very, very hot vintages in the lasts few years.)  

Geographically speaking, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and, at a whopping 10,000 miles, is Italy’s largest wine region! Similar to many islands, you can find basically everything on Sicily: hills, poor soil, endless sunlight, a volcano….so it’s unsurprising that different regimes have always considered obtaining Sicily as a prize. In between bouts of independence, Sicily was settled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, and Arabs. This means that the culture and cuisine of Sicily is unlike anywhere else in the world. One can find local fare that is tantalizing like local dishes such as Caponata, Panelle, and Buisante with Pesto Trapanese. “I’m Sicilian, not Italian” is a phrase you may hear, especially in the North Shore of Boston, which points to the complexity of Sicily’s heritage and self-identity of its inhabitants and immigrants.

The Greeks can be given credit for ramping  up viticulture in Sicily, and by the time Julius Caesar came around, his (supposed) favorite wine was a sweet wine from Sicily called Mammertine. Fast forward a few, and Sicilian winemaking continued into the 20thcentury, rising and falling into a common mishap in wine: quantity over quality.  Larger Sicilian co-ops churned out millions of bottles that Sicilian vineyards could produce instead of focusing on the quality of the grapes. Sicily became known worldwide as an island full of cheap, poor-quality wine; however, in the past few decades winemakers have rebelled against this stereotype and have put focus and energy and sustainable practices into making quality wine.  

Etna, or Mt. Etna has always reminded me of a cantankerous grandmother who is always right and occasionally blows a gasket - in this case literally. As recently as 2012, Mt. Etna remains active and spewed fountains of lava into the air that were taller than the Eiffel Tower! Oh, and yeah, and people grow wine here too. No biggie. Besides that rich, black lava soil that coaxes a stark mineral-ness from grapes, there are a couple other factors that have made locals and foreigners (like cult hipster winemaker Frank Corneilissen) move here and risk their livelihood and sanities: the elevation and weather on the island. Some of these vineyards are at 3,300 feet in elevation which means that it is significantly chillier but still relentlessly sunny on Etna.

When you’re walking up Mt. Etna, you’ll pass vineyards full of indigenous grape varieties like Carricante, Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Cappuccio. Try Carricante, an herbal white wine, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure! It’s stony, herbaceous, and charming. Oddly enough, it’s chilly enough on Mt. Etna to even grow Riesling. The red grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese and Nerelle Cappuccio both produce beautifully light-hued wines that are super tannic. Drinking wines from Etna is like swallowing a mouthful of chalk - you need food on the side and a large glass of water on the side!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking lowly of Sicilian wines that are not from Mt. Etna. The entire island produces amazing wine from awesome grapes like Frappato, Nero d’Avola, Catarratto, and Grillo. The red grape Frappato is always kind of playful, while Nero d’Avola is a bit more dramatic. Curious how they’d taste as a Rosato? Come to the tasting! Cataratto and Grillo are both super gulpable and food friendly wines. Ci vediamo venerdi!


2016 Marino Abate Catarratto 

Who: Angelo Abate along with his sons Vincenzo, Nicola, and Rosella

What: Catarratto 

Where: Sicily, Italy

How: Aged on its lees in stainless steel

Farming Method: Organic practices

Fun Fact: Catarratto is the most planted varietal in Sicily.

Tasting Notes: Stony, mandarin oranges, and hay.


2016 Palmento Costanzo ‘Mofete’ Rosso

Who: Mimmo and Valeria Costanzo

What: Blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio 

Where: Sicily, Italy

How: Aged for 6 months in concrete vats before bottling and then aged for an additional 2 years

Farming Method: Natural practices

Fun Fact: On Valeria and Mimmo’s 12 hectare property there are about 8,000 plants per hectare! Crazy, right!?  

Tasting Notes: Enough floral notes on the nose to make you feel as if you’re in a meadow with notes of cherry and cinnamon in the glass.


2018 Guerrieri ‘Donna Grazia’ Rosato

Who: Giovanni Guerrieri and family

What: Blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola

Where: Sicily, Italy

How: The Frappato and Nero d’Avola are fermented separately. The Frappato grapes get 9 hours of skin contact and the Nero d’Avola graps get 13 hours of skin contact. The wine is then blended and spends a few months in stainless steel.

Farming Method: Organic practices

Fun Fact: One of the classic Sicilian wines is Marsala, a sweet fortified wine, that was pushed at the British beginning in the 1770’s by an Englishman who wanted to compete with the Port and Sherry markets.

Tasting Notes: Full-bodied, mineral-driven and spicy! If you’re on the fence about rose being cool try this one and it’ll blow your mind.