I’m always surprised, and delighted, by how many people come into the shop and ask for Sicilian wine. For years, Sicily – especially the west of the island – has been seen as a producer of cheap, bulk wines. But it is starting to show the world that it is capable of producing wines that can stand shoulder to shoulder with more revered regions in Italy.
I recently spent a few days around Marsala and Menfi, visiting producers large and small. These included Planeta and Donnafugata, who have played a leading part in the rebirth of the modern Sicilian wine industry. But also boutique producers doing interesting things with local grapes such as Grillo, Inzolia, Grecanico, Zibibbo (whites) and Nero D’Avola and Perricone (reds).
My trip to the region was as a writer for my website sipswooshspit.com rather than a retailer. However, I couldn’t turn a blind eye to some of the great wines we tasted.
One of those was a simple Grecanico from Caruso e Minini, where we spent our first evening of the trip. Caruso e Minini have their winery in an old baglio (a type of fortified manor house) in Marsala itself. The Terre di Giumara Grecanico is named after their country estate where they grow many of the grapes.
A fellow traveller called the Terre di Guimara Grecanico her house white. And I can see why. It matches aromatics and a fuller body with snappy acidity to keep things nimble and lithe. Think orange water, baked pears, straw and a very subtle cinnamon backnote before a lifted, dry finish.
The Grecanico grape is identical to Garganega, which makes Soave in the Veneto. Yes, I know memories linger of dull, characterless Soave from the 1980s, but in the right hands, it can make wonderful wines. Which is why I’ve just added this Grecanico to the Park+Bridge list, making it our fourth Sicilian wine.
The Terre di Guimara Grecanico 2012 slips down on its own remarkably easy, but is – surprise, surprise – fab with seafood. I enjoyed some with a plate (or two…) of octopus.