Sicily is an Italian wine region with a fascinating and often misunderstood story. Its history, art, culture and geography are different from any of the other Italian regions. Yes the Mafia and Marsala are part of that story but there is so much more. Over many centuries the influence of Greek, Arab, Spanish and French dominations have blended together to create an extremely diverse and unique place to produce wine.
There is evidence of viticulture and winemaking dating back to before the Greeks (who occupied Sicily between 800 and 500 B.C.). Sicilian wines started being exported throughout the Mediterranean during the 4th century B.C. and were greatly appreciated by the Romans.
Centuries later, under Arab domination, viticulture was restricted to the production of raisins even though the population continued to drink wine. Funny how that prohibition experiment never seems to work.
In the 1700s and 1800s Marsala was held in high esteem and considered one of the world’s great fortified wines. Phylloxera, which ravaged the island in 1880-1881, and a change in popular wine taste quickly turned Marsala into a byword for sweet, sticky, fortified wines only used for cooking. The production of bulk wine then flourished in the ensuing years and continued throughout the decades of the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Today the production of bulk wine is still predominant in Sicily and the growers who bottle are a small percentage of the total production. There is however a young generation of talented and passionate producers who are producing very high quality wine.
Based in the town of Marsala on the islands western tip, Caruso & Minini is a youthful and dynamic winery that is setting new standards for quality Sicilian wine. The Caruso & Minini Nero d’Avola Terre di Giumara opens to inky black intensity with ripe tones of black cherry and crème de cassis. Downright delicious, this lip-smacking red will stand up to the heartiest cuts of meat on the grill. Why not discover for yourself how good Sicilian wines can be?
Paul Quaglini, Wine & Spirits Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinepaulq