Sicilian Wine Reviews

Posted by Keith Wallace

A few of our favorite wines from our trips to Sicily.

Gambino Vini

The Gambino winery sits in the shadows of Mount Etna near Linguaglossa, its terraced vineyards sloping toward the ring of towns that circle the still active volcano. The high-altitude, tufarous soils are home to a range of indigenous varietals that thrive in other parts of the Etna DOC. Over lunch with the amiable Fabio Gambino, I sampled several of the estate’s wines, of which the following trio stood out.

Wine bottle and glass with Sicily outline.

Cantari IGT: A rarity, Nerello Mascalese vinified in bianco. Pretty nose of mountain flowers and bushes, white fruits, and green apples. Light but concentrated flavors with a savory mineral quality. Juicy citrus acidity with a dusty coating.

Tifeo Etna Bianco DOC: Scents of citrus, apple, orange blossoms, even the ubiquitous Sicilian broom. Deeply fruity with a solid body. Stays fresh and mildly dry, with evident but not overt acidity. The addition of Carricante gives it a fruit-driven aftertaste and aromatic complexity.

Alicante IGT: A mouthful of intense, warm flavors still showing their youthful tannins. The semi-modern style is full of red berries and hints of Mediterranean spices. The core of acidity keeps the concentrated fruit in balance. An interesting take on Grenache.

Other Notable Sicilian Wineries

Some other noteworthy wines encountered along the strada del vino:

Duca di Salaparuta “Calanica” IGT

Inzolia buttressed by a small dose of Chardonnay, which rounds it off but does not blunt the zesty beam of acidity that keeps it lively. Perfumed and flowery waves of honeysuckle and fresh melons. A bracing salinity that adds a uniquely local feel.

Planeta “Plumbago” IGT

Nero d’Avola is not as dense as Noto, but cherries and red currants are backed by loamy earth and woodsmoke. Redolent of the island’s southern coast, enhanced by exotic spices. The smooth finish of darker berries and plums. Delicious.

Fondo Antico Grillo “Perlante” IGT

From the Trapani area, perhaps the best site for this varietal. Lighter than usual, smooth, rounded. Fresh and fruity aromas of melons and wildflowers. Crisp acidity finishes with more gusto than the start.

Milazzo “Terre della Baronia” IGT

This is a silky, flavorful blend of Nero d’Avola and Perricone. It has a smoky nose of red fruit and earth. Bursts of acidity keep it vigorous. Pleasant and well-articulated cherries and seasonal fruits. Versatile, structured, and food-friendly.

Cantine Florio “Terre Arse Vergine” Marsala

From a well-respected master of the style. Complex layers of apricots, liquory raisins, citrus, nuts, brown sugar. Picks up intense flavors of dried fig and honey. Not truly viscous, there are recurring hints of sweetness in this slightly dry and balanced wine.

Colorful Sicily wine bottle with grapes and leaves.

More About Sicilian Wines

Exploring the Enchanting Flavors of Sicilian Wines

The diverse terroir of Sicily provides a unique canvas for winemakers, resulting in a rich tapestry of flavors that reflect the island’s vibrant culture and history. From the volcanic soils of Mount Etna to the sun-drenched coasts, each wine tells a story of its origin.

Mount Etna’s Influence

The volcanic influence is paramount in wines like the Gambino Vini’s selections. The high-altitude vineyards and mineral-rich soils imbue these wines with a distinctive character, balancing robust fruit flavors with an underlying minerality that is both refreshing and complex.

The Coastal Breeze

Wines from coastal regions, such as the Planeta “Plumbago” IGT, benefit from the maritime climate, which moderates temperatures and extends the growing season. This results in wines with vibrant acidity and a remarkable depth of flavor, often highlighted by notes of sea air and saline.

Innovative Winemaking

Sicilian winemakers are not afraid to innovate, blending traditional practices with modern techniques to create wines that are both rooted in tradition and forward-looking. This blend of old and new is evident in wines like the Milazzo “Terre della Baronia” IGT, which combines indigenous varietals with contemporary winemaking methods to produce a wine that is both familiar and exciting.

By understanding the diverse influences and innovative approaches that characterize Sicilian winemaking, enthusiasts can better appreciate the unique qualities that make these wines so special. Whether enjoying a robust red or a crisp white, each sip offers a journey through Sicily’s rich winemaking heritage.

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