Exotic, intense, and aromatic, the seductive wines of Sicily are making a splash on the world wine scene. Their rising popularity and prestige is due to a shift from cheap bulk wine to smaller boutique wines, in a renaissance shift from quantity to quality. This transformation embraces organic and biodynamic trends by innovative winemakers who have invested big-time in the ancient vineyards of this unique, culturally rich place.
Forged from the rugged terrain of the largest island in the Mediterrranean, Sicilian wines exhibit intense character and aromatic complexity. Clarified by four different soils, concentrated by the hot Scirocco winds from the African Sahara, these exotic beauties weave intriguing indigenous grape varietals with international ones into a flavorful blend of fruit, with a mineral tinge and an herbal twist. White wines are usually made from Cataratto, Zibbibo, Grillo, and Ansonica; red wines come from Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Nerello Mascalese, to name but a few. The Italians like to say that the wines have sapidity (salinity) from the surrounding sea. In any case, Sicily produces all manner of wine: sparkling, white, red, rosé, and sweet wines.
At a recent trade tasting of Sicilian wines at Valentino restaurant in Santa Monica, sponsored by Donnafugata Wines, their invigorating beauty was firmly established. Donnafugata Wines, launched by the Rallo family thirty years ago, are perfect examples of the personality of Sicilian wines. Their passionate commitment to distinct quality wines is coupled with responsible cultivation and elaborate bottle labels.
Donnafugata offers six white wines, fresh, mineral, and aromatically complex. Three were tasted, and all were delicious. Greeted with a glass of Donnafugata Lighea, a crisp, white wine, aromatic with white rose, orange blossom, peach, and candied citrus peel, it was refreshing with fruity melon flavors and notes of sage and rosemary. Easy to drink, this pleasurable glass of lower alcohol Zibibbo is a great aperitif, or companion to Mediterranean fish dishes.
The Donnafugata Anthilia is an aromatic, fruity and floral white wine, of white peach and yellow plum, with white flowers, and a mineral backbone. This Cataratto blend, also low in alcohol, was round and elegant, with a slight viscous character, and goes well with shellfish or fish.
The Donnafugata Chiarandà, an elegant, round white wine, with medium body, and ripe peach and apple fruit, smelled of honey and herbs, great with smoked fish, fried foods, and aged cheeses.
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