Sicily in southern ItalyAs mentioned in Unit 4, Sicily is among the largest producers of wine in Italy and makes more white wine than red. Its most prevalent grape variety, white or red, is Catarratto, which not long ago was the most planted variety in all of Italy. However, Catarratto is considered to be a low-quality blending grape and it is being steadily replaced with more saleable varieties. It is rarely produced as a varietal wine and labeled as such.

Sicily has several other indigenous white varieties that have a better reputation, including:

  • Grillo, Sicily’s most-planted quality white grape variety
  • Ansonica—also known as Insolia or Inzolia—which is almost exclusive to Sicily except for a tiny amount in Tuscany
  • Grecanico Dorato, which happens to be a genetic match with an important Venetian grape called Garganega (covered in Unit 6)
  • Zibibbo, used primarily for sweet wines

These varieties may be seen by themselves or in various blends. In addition, there are large plantings of Chardonnay and Trebbiano.

Sicilian DOPs and IGP

Sicily has several DOCs for its white wine, but most are unfamiliar on the export market. The majority of white wine is labeled as either Sicilia DOC or IGP Terre Siciliane, both of which cover the entire region.

Mount Etna behind CataniaOne denomination that is well known internationally is Etna DOC. The vineyards of this denomination are on the lower slopes of 11,000-foot (3,300-meter) Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting frequently. At elevations of 1,000–3,600 feet, these vineyards experience cooler temperatures than are typical for Sicily. In addition to red wines made from Nerello Mascalese, Etna DOC produces white wines from a blend based on a minor variety, Carricante.

Next topic: Southeastern Italy