by Anthony Lynch
Take 20% off a traditional-method sparkler from Riofavara, an ethereal Carricante-based bianco from Grottafumata, a rosato from Masseria Del Pino, a delicate rosso from Vigneti Vecchio, a Frappato from Portelli, and many more selections from our producers in Sicily. Now through July 2, visit our Berkeley shop or Click HERE and use coupon code SICILY2023 at checkout.
In this traditional-method sparkler, Moscato Giallo takes center stage along with native Sicilian varieties Grecanico, Grillo, Rucignola, Cutrera, and Recunu. Bottle-aged for eighteen months before disgorgement, not unlike fine Champagne, this unusual blend has a luminous bouquet of fresh herbs, flowers, and citrus zest. The resolutely chalky dry finish is a trademark of the stony white vineyard soil, just a short hike from the Mediterranean coastline. More than a simple bottle of bubbly, this is a Sicilian experience.
In 2017, Mauro Cutuli and Mariangela Prestifilippo released their first wines under the Grottafumata label, until then known for its stunning olive oil from the slopes of Mount Etna. The fourth vintage of their Carricante-based bianco is a lighter, more ethereal expression of Etna than previous releases, a veritable cloud of fresh-pressed stone fruits, yellow wildflowers, and aromatic herbs. It was bottled unfiltered to preserve all its succulent flesh.
Federica Turillo and Cesare Fulvio are a charming couple who renounced city life to make their home on Etna’s northern face amid less than two hectares of bush-trained vines, which they grow and transform entirely by hand according to ancient methods employed by local farmers of an era past. Their rosato is produced from mostly Nerello Mascalese vines well over one hundred years old, the ripe berries foot-stomped and briefly macerated in wooden buckets before being pressed off in a little basket press. The wine ages in old oak and is bottled without filtration or sulfur, yielding a delightfully rustic, full-flavored rosé saturated with savory nuances and hints of ripe summer fruit. It’s a natural partner to pestos, tomato salads, and other warm-weather fare soon to grace your table.
Contrada Donna Bianca (named for the snowcapped “lady” Etna whose summit towers overhead) is a vineyard situated at 820 meters above sea level in the commune of Randazzo. Planted in 1950, the vines here are primarily own-rooted, struggling through volcanic debris and bold lava ridges protruding from Earth’s crust to produce the most delicate, sensual rosso in the Vigneti Vecchio lineup. The surprising presence of Grenache in the blend—historic on certain parts of Etna—and a smattering of white grapes co-planted with the reds contribute to the silky texture and intoxicating floral aromatics you’ll find in this bottling. It is a volcanic infusion of exceptional finesse.
It’s hard to think of Sicily without thinking of food, and any occasion featuring Sicilian food on the table calls for a cool bottle of Frappato. Alessandro Portelli fashions a remarkably fragrant, agile rendition of the grape in the sun-kissed countryside around Vittoria, deep in Sicily’s dusty southern reaches. Baked eggplant dishes, flame-seared tuna steaks, and red-sauce pastas loaded with olives and capers are just a few ideas you might consider for a Sicily-inspired feast. The ambrosial perfume of lavender, wild strawberry, and sour cherry in this lifted red will make the flavors on your plate sing.