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Delhi Wine Club
Speedtasting Wines of Sicily- Sicilia Occidentale

Posted: Thursday, 27 October 2011 15:01

Speedtasting Wines of Sicily- Sicilia Occidentale

Oct 26: The Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa in the Palermo city center buzzed with activity earlier this month with several producers of Sicilia Occidentale- the Western half of Sicily moving from table to table in a rhythm, meeting buyers and journalists from eight target markets with whom they speedtasted their wines within a specified time of 20 minutes, writes Subhash Arora one of the invited journalists.

Organised by the Istituto Regionale della Vite e del Vino (IRVV) Sicily- The Regional Institute of Vines and Wines, the Speedtasting had been divided into two days by Michele Shah who had organised the event with Dr. Dario Cartabellotta, Director of IRVV- one day near Catania for wineries in the Eastern half- Sicilia Orientale while the second part of the tasting in Palermo showcased wines that also highlighted the difference in terroir and the soil in the two halves. Around 20 producers had signed up to meet an equal number of producers and journalists at their pre-assigned tables where they could taste four wines, though a few enthusiastic ones carried even seven to get the maximum tasted within the time allotted to them.

A majority of the vines of Sicily are in the western half- Sicilia Occidentale. The westernmost province of Trapani produces 58% of the wines, with Trapani, Agrigento and Palermo-all in the Western half, accounting for over 88% of the total production.

The Western Half- Sicilia Occidentale is divided into 9 areas- 1 Pantelleria, 2 Marsala e Mazara del Vallo, 3.Erice, 4.Segesta, 5.Monreale, 6. Terre Sicane, 7.Valle dei Templi di Agrigento, 8. Contea di Sclafani and 9. Castelli Nisseni (see map). Only DOC wines are produced (optional to call them DOP now and will have to be known as DOP from next year)

Click For Large ViewNero d’Avola is the most popular red grape. With over 16% of the cultivation (18,830 hAs) in various parts of Sicily it gives interesting red wine with changing characteristics due to terroir in the diverse areas.

Catarratto is the king of white grapes in that over a third of the total Sicilian grapes is being planted with this variety. Inzolia (Insolia- also known as Ansonica) and Grillo are the other popular local varieties although Grecanico and Trebbiano Toscana and Zibibbo (Muscat di Alexandria that makes luscious sweet wines) are also popular.

With introduction of modern technology and increased investments, adherence and respect for the law and dedicated efforts by wineries like Planeta, Tasca d’Almarita and Donnafugata etc. to make quality wines and promote the region, Sicily has come to be known as a resource for terroir driven quality wines with still an excellent Price-Quality Ratio. During the same period several new wineries came up, a majority of whom had been grape growers or bulk wine producers and decided to switch to brand-based marketing of their wines with improving quality.

After visiting a few wineries like Tenuta di Fessina, Terrazze dell’ Etna, Lanzara and Masseria del Feudo, we had reached Palermo for the second half of the tour.

Feudo Disisa

Owned by Lorenzo family with 200 years of experience, the new avatar – the winery was started in 1999 with first harvest in 2004. Vineyards are at 400 m height, near Alcamo. The company has 200 hA of vines and makes 200,000 bottles but has the capacity of a million. Making mostly white wines it has 4-5 Varietals and 7-10 special wines. Grillo tasted has good acidity, fresh, too citrus, but good aperitif for fish etc, good for vegetarians and fried foods (84). Persempre 2010 F was started for son’s wedding-hence the name. Unusual golden colour, very citrus but nice and  crisp. But citrus rules, Great match for their frittatas here in Sicily. Tornamira  2006 is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah. Very perfumed wine with good balance (88) Nero d’Avola 2009  is a delicious wine but not a good PQR at 84.

Contact: Arturo D’Angelo

Relatively new winery in Trapani with production from 2007. It has 40ha vineyards and produces 130,000 bottles, of which 70% are exported mainly to Switzerland, Canada, Japan, China, UK and UK where Virgin Airlines buys its wine for its business class. It is a 7 year old project with the brand being only 2 years young. Punto 8 Grillo is slightly mineral, fuller on palate, nice perfume with  juicy citrus end (86) and reasonable price. Ottoventi Bianco 2010 is a low alcohol (12.5%) blend of , Catarratto (50%), Grillo (40%) and 10% Zibibbo –dark golden, medium  body, very crispy wine with sweet end due to Zibibbo. A little too sharp, but sweetness persists.(85) Punto 20 is a  Nero d’Avola- nice aromas with animal aromas in the back layer which I did not care for. Sour cherries flavour full on the palate. Nerello Mascalese 2007 is a crisp, dark colour wine but a bit on the expensive side (89)


Chardonnay stored in 8 months in medium toasted oak has made this wine very interesting (87). Same with Syrah (88) though expensive. Rosso del Levriero (name of the dog) has a nice balance (87). Nocera 2009 is a Roman grape variety special to the region. Wine has very high acidity and high alcohol (14.5%). Also quite expensive (87). The wines are generally on the expensive side for India but have an interesting personality that could be exciting for high-end restaurants.

Contact: Alessio Planeta

A brainchild of Diego Planeta, this winery founded in the nineties helped change the perception of the world towards Sicily and made it known for good quality.. It is also a plus point that he connects very well with India emotionally. Brindco is the importer already in India, but others may want to contact Alessio Planeta who looks after marketing and despite their iconic stature, came to the event and tasted his wines with all those journalists and importers- La Segreta Bianco (nice quaff, 88,), Chardonnay (nice oak, good , balance, 90) , Merlot (soft and luscious with balsamic notes, 89), Santa Cecilia Nero d’Avola, 90) and Moscato (sweet and vivacious, 92)

Feudi Montoni

Contact: Fabio Sireci, owner

The winery claims to have its roots since 1469. It has 73 hAs estate with cultivation of 23 hA of grapes. Part of the vineyards are biological. Colle del Mandorlo Bianco Inzolia 2010 is a simple quaffable and acceptable wine (83). Grillo Feudo Montoni 13% is a full bodied, golden, nice and delicious (87), a better value. Catarratto 2010 13 % is beautiful golden fruitier, offers a better value for  money. Its fruity with pineapple notes, fuller on the mouth and long.Colle del Mandorlo Pericone is an excellent wine with crisp acidity for the price (88)
Nero d’Avola 2010 has a good balance and fruit concentration, another good value for money wine (88) Feudi 2009 is a Nero d’Avola with sweet vanilla flavours (89). Feudi Montoni -2008  is their top wine and has a great balance of flavours, though expensive (92)


Contact: Dott Ing. Alfredo Quignones,owner
Or Leandra Cantavenera (relazioni estero)

The company specialises in making varietal wines. Insolia  2010 had an initial bitter attack due to strong tannins, followed by acidic flavour, ending with bitter taste on the palate and long end. An unusual wine but I liked it as it had a different personality-generally may not be appreciated in India (83). Petit Verdot 2007 was very reductive and might open up in the glass, but closed with aromas that were not fresh. Tasted rather green.(81) Nero d’Avola varietal Tenuta d’Apaforte- igt- aged in Barrique, was fresh and crisp. A bit expensive but delightful (92) Largasía (means generosity) with Merlot and Syrah was reductive and needed some oxygenation. It has lovely acidity and juiciness, once it opens up, a nice juicy wine (88)
Villa Scaminaci

This is a 100- members co-operative producing 150 000 bottles. It has an app that works on iPhone giving traceability. I checked the bar code, it worked fine. Bianco Salaputra doc has 13% alc, and is a blend of 65% Catarratto, with Chardonnay and Grillo being the rest. Very clean, fresh and crisp with terroir driven mineral notes in the flavour.(90) Excellent PQR. Catarratto was also very mineral, delicious wine with outstanding PQR (91). Red wines are also quite quaffable but slightly higher priced and not as concentrated.

Subhash Arora 

More producers to be added


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