As mentioned in Unit 4, Sicily is the largest producer of wine in southern Italy and makes more white wine than red. Its dominant grape variety by far, white or red, is Catarratto; however, Catarratto is considered a low-quality blending variety and 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
Sicily has several DOCs for its white wine, but most are not familiar on the export market. The majority of white wine is labeled as either Sicilia DOC or IGP Terre Siciliane, which cover the entire region.
One denomination that is well known internationally is Etna DOC, located around the base of Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting frequently. The vineyards of Etna DOC are on the lower slopes of the 11,000-foot (3,300-meter) volcano, at elevations of 1,000–3,600 feet, which provides cooler temperatures than are typical for Sicily. In addition to red wines made from Nerello Mascalese, this denomination produces white wines from a blend based on a minor variety, Carricante.