Left to Right: Sardinia, Vermentino; Sicily, Etna Bianco; Sicily, Etna Bianco; Sicily, Nero d’Avola; Puglia, Primitivo
Obscure Southern Italian Wines - for August
They’re not household names like their Piedmont or Tuscan cousins, but the wines of Italy’s southern wine districts are bold, full-bodied, and satisfying.
Wine production in southern Italy has languished in modern times and a large portion of wine produced there was sold to France and Germany as a blending wine. All that is changing.
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, also has a rich wine history. For almost 4000 years, Sicilians have been producing wine. Today they produce about 1/6 of Italy’s wine, the majority of it white. This is a perfect accompaniment to the fresh seafood and fish that abound in Sicily.
In general, Sicilian wines are light-bodied and dry. They go well with the cuisine of the island: pasta, veal, and seafood.
Left: From Sardinia – Vermentino
A high acid, mineral, lean and a bit of salinity. Versatile but particularly good with the grilled fish, vegetables—the Mediterranean diet.
Right: Grillo & Cataratto Bianco
White varietals from Sicily and Sardinia
Cataratto Bianco is the most planted white Grape in Sicily, Grillo in Sardinia. Both are traditionally used in Marsala but a few producers are making great still white wines. Expect a more medium-bodied flavor, similar to Chardonnay, with lemon and apple and faint notes of orange.
Left: Nero d’Avola
Red Cherry, Tart Blackberry, Pepper.
Pairs well with Burgers and Meat Lover’s Pizza
Similar taste profile to Cabernet Sauvignon
As Sicily’s most planted red grape, Nero d’Avola’s fruity nature brings plenty of bright red cherry, tart blackberry, and peppery spice to the glass.
A heady combination of fruit meets structure, showing zippy acidity and moderate alcohol levels. Nero d’Avola promises to mellow out with a bit of time in the glass (or decanter) and partner up incredibly well with juicy bison burgers, Mom’s lasagna, or your local meat lover’s pizza. Easy to drink, and even easier on the wallet – expect to for a bottle of snappy Sicilian adventure.
Right: Primitivo AKA Zinfandel
Black Fruits and Berries, Smoky
Pairs well with Salumi, Grilled Meats and Hard Cheeses
Primitivo from Puglia is one of Italy’s lush and plush red wine divas sought as a solo bottling for its generous fruit and sultry spice along with elevated alcohol, and the instantly approachable tandem of low acidity and modest tannins give it a bold, but smooth mouthfeel.
A natural with cured meat, tangy grilled veggies, brats or burgers, Primitivo is a flavor force to be reckoned with.