Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sicily Makes White Wine, Too

When you think Sicily you might think of big, brawny red wines that go along with ample bowls of pasta with red sauce. This side of Sicilian wine and food is well known--but Sicily makes white wine, too. The island off the toe of Italy's boot is known for its volcanic soil, and its rich whites that seem to soak up the essence of warm Mediterranean sunshine.

One of the wineries that makes the most of the sun and soil is the Gulfi winery, located in the ancient province of Ragusa. Evidence of Ragusa's viticultural heritage extends back as far as the 4th century BCE. Gulfi's owner, Vito Catania, has been making wine in Ragusa since 1996, and specializes in Sicilian grape varieties, including Frappato (my choice for WBW #42).

This time, though, I picked one of his whites to try. The 2005 Gulfi Valcanzjria was a very good QPR choice. (K&L Wines, $10.99; available from other merchants for $12-$14). Made from a blend of Chardonnay and an indigenous Sicilian variety, Carricante, it had rich aromas of apple, honey, and almond. Carricante is known for its nuttiness and citrus-like acidity, with brought nice dimensions of richness and freshness to the wine. On the palate, the mouthfeel is rich and round with apple and citrus notes. The wine had a lovely satiny texture, and the nuttiness turned into a slightly bitter almond aftertaste.

We had our Sicilian white with some cheddar cheese grits topped with pan-seared sausages tossed in the pan with apple, fennel seeds, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. A southern Italian white was the suggested wine to go with this dish, and it was a very nice pairing. The nuttiness of the Carricante went well with the earthiness of the grits, and the acidity cut through the fat of the sausage and picked up the sharpness of the cheddar cheese.

I'm only two months into my Italian wine adventure, and feel like I've already learned an awful lot. I can already tell that Italy's white wines are going to be a revelation and an inspiration as I continue through the other regions.


Anonymous said...

You know another Sicilian white I like? Planeta Chardonnay. Some may call it spoofulated, but I really like Planeta's wine, and their Chard is a great marriage of Old World/New World. It does run pricey, but I recall it as having excellent QPR.

Orion Slayer said...

Thanks for taking us along on your Italian wine adventure! I'm going to have to try this one out; do you think Cheese Nips and hot dogs will take the place of what you had it with? I'm culinarily challenged!

Greg said...

I must admit that I haven't had a white wine from Sicily before. No I'm intrigued. Thanks for your post.

Unknown said...

Q: Just had this, and loved it, and agree with your description -- just to add to the mix, though, in addition to Chardonnay and Carricante, there's another indigenous grape in there, the albanello, found only in a small corner of Sicily, and typically used as a blending grape.