Wines of Sicily and Sardinia

Sicily: A major share of Sicily’s DOC production is represented by Marsala, a sweet wine originated by English merchants two centuries ago. Marsala, Sicily’s proudest wine has enjoyed a comeback in recent years among connoisseurs, who favor the dry Vergine and Superiore Riserva, with the warmly complex flavors that rank them with the finest fortified wines of Europe.

The other DOC wine made in quantity is the pale white, bone dry Bianco D’Alcamo. Moscato di Pantelleria, from the remote isle off the coast of Tunisia, is among the richest and most esteemed of Italian sweet wines in the Naturale and Passito Extra versions. Malvasia delle Lipari, from the volcanic Aeolian isles, is a dessert wine as exquisite as it is rare.

The dry white and red wines of Etna, whose vine adorn the lower slopes of the volcano, show class. Production of other traditional DOCs-the dry red Faro and sweet Moscatos of Noto and Siracusa- has been slight in recent years. But the volume of Premium wines has increased somewhat with the addition of DOCs from various parts of the island.

The greatest surge in volume of quality wines has come from the rapid expansion of IGT wines. Many fine wines come from native varieties, notably Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascareseand Perricone (Pignatello), among the reds and Inzolia and Grecanico among the whites. Also prominent are such international varieties as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, which show real promise in Sicily, whether as single varietals or in blends.

A major share of Sicily’s wine is produced by cooperatives, but the number of privately owned estates has been growing. Prominent wine houses from northern and central Italy have invested in vineyards and cellars on the island.

Sardinia: The island’s most productive vineyards area is the Campidano, the fertile plains and rolling hills northwest of the capital and major port of Cagliari. The varieties grown there -Giro’, Malvasia, Monica, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus- carry the name of Cagliari in their denominations: Cagliari DOC.

The wooded slopes of the northern Gallura peninsula and the northwestern coatal area around Sassari and Alghero are known for premium whites. Vermentino makes whites of depth and style, under Vermentino di Gallura DOCG.

Moscato can be either still or sparkling. But it is always sweet. Notably the one from Sorso and Sennori, around the hills of Gallura. Malvasia, may be sweet, but it is perhaps most impressive dry wine, from the town of Bosa and the Planarigia hills, on the western side of the island, as well as under the Cagliari DOC. Still other refined sweet white is Semidano DOC from the town of Mogoro.

A distinguished Sardinian wine is Vernaccia di Oristano. Grown around the town of Oristano, it becomes a Sherry-like amber wine with a rich array of nuances and bouquet and flavor.

A popular white variety is Nuragus, which is believed to have been brought ther by the Phoenicians. Nuragus is the source of modern dry white. Clean and crisp in flavor.

The island’s important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of Granacha, brought from Spain, and Carignano and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Cannonau and Monica can be dry or sweet, though trends fovor the dry type, toned down in strength.

Vineyards in the rugged eastern coastal range around Nuoro are noted for rich, red Cannonau. Cannonau also makes a fine sweet wine, which can be reminiscent of Port. In addition to it’s 20 wines DOC and DOCG, Sardinia has 15 IGTs, the most of any region.

3 comments to Wines of Sicily and Sardinia

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  • nazareno Cappella  says:

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