Italy | Sicily (Sicilia)
Italy's southernmost wine region, Sicily, is the largest island in the Mediterranean and in terms of quantity, is one of Italy's most important wine producing regions. In recent times Sicily’s winemakers have moved away from high-volume, unremarkable wines, to focus on quality wines from indigenous grapes of great character. The new wave of dry, well-structured red and white wines could not be further removed from the sweet Marsala and Moscato of the island’s past.
The sea-change was driven in the main by the Planeta family, who established their winery in the Menfi region of the island in 1985. By 1999 they had won Italy's coveted winery of the year award and gained recognition and respect internationally for the quality of their wines. Planeta is now, not only one of the islands top producers, but also one of Italy's greatest and the stunning quality of their wines has encouraged many other long established wineries to raise standards.
Mount Etna, the towering volcano that dominates Sicily's eastern skyline is responsible for the mineral-rich, dark soils which characterise the Etna DOC vineyards. As Etna increases in popularity a new wave of winemakers are planting vineyards higher up on the volcanic slopes to capitalise on the cooler air and unique terroir the volcano has to offer.
The principle grape varieties used in Sicilian wine production are a combination of indigenous island varieties such as: Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Grillo, Carricante, Catarratto and Nerello Mascalese, alongside the more fashionable international grape varieties of Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The Sicilian wine industry has received significant investment in recent years, particularly from producers on mainland Italy, which demonstrates that there has never been more interest in its vibrant, charismatic and captivating wines.