India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Special Feature: Sicilian Wines Seduce Indian Connoisseurs

Posted: Friday, 27 January 2012 13:42

Special Feature: Sicilian Wines Seduce Indian Connoisseurs

Jan 27 : Dario Cartabellotta, Director of the Regional Institute for Wine and Viticulture of Sicily, headed a group including three wine producers visiting India where Master-Classes in Sicily and its wines were organised by the Indian Wine Academy in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune where the invitees were really seduced by the taste of Sicily, writes Subhash Arora who conducted the seminars with the help of Michele Shah, a wine consultant from Italy.

Photo By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large View

Dario Cartabellotta introducing Sicily in Delhi
In India, when you think of top Italian wines, you visualize Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello and possibly Amarone, if you don’t mind higher alcohol. But it was a Nero d’Avola that won the Best Red Wine Trophy in the terminal edition of India Wine Challenge in 2009, indicative of the palate pleasing capability of this signature red wine from Sicily.

Nero d’Avola is one of the several indigenous grapes that separates the island of Sicily from several other countries and perhaps ranks as high as Piemonte, Tuscany and Veneto for the number of indigenous varieties. There are varieties like Frappato (which when blended with this grape makes the only docg of Sicily-Cerasuolo di Vittoria).

Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are tongue twisting red grapes from the volcanic area of Etna that taste delicious on the tongue.  Malvasia Nera, Perricone, Nocera are some of the other grape varieties which most of the Indian wine lovers might not even have heard of, not to talk of tasting them. Master Class-Sicily was a unique opportunity where they could not only learn about these grapes but also taste several wines made from these grapes that include Sicily’s largest grown Cataratto, Carricante,  Grillo, Grecanico, Insolia, Moscato, and Zibibbo.

Nero d’Avola is also a variety which changes the personality with soil and terroir. In fact, as Arora who conducted the seminars along with Michele Shah, a known face to many because of her earlier visits to India, pointed out, ‘one could possibly do a PhD by studying in depth the effect of different regions and terroirs to get the optimum out of the grape which was earlier used as a blend in bulk wines or in blends exported to North Italy and France to get colour and high alcohol.

Introducing the Sicilian wines at each seminar held in Hyatt Regency Delhi (January10), Hyatt Regency Kolkata (January 11), Hotel Trident BKC Bandra (January 13) and Hyatt Regency Pune (January 14), Dario Cartabellotta, Director General of Istituto Regionale della Vite e Vino (IRVV) of Sicily was candid enough to point out in his introduction that Sicily was a bulk wine producer till 15 years ago when some producers brought in technology, made new investments and improved viticulture, thus improving the quality significantly making Sicilian wines offer an excellent price-quality ratio.

The tastings that followed at each of the Master-Classes were interactive and gave a taste of many of the following wines. Michele was able to draw out many known and unknown faces at each of the Classes to share their impressions about various wines, a full spectrum of which were showcased (sparkling, white, rose, red and dessert wines), at the seminars- partly at the tasting while others at the classy and elegant  sit-down dinners organised by the Indian Wine Academy with proper food and match at the venue selected in each hotel.

Arora emphasized that these events were not only wine tastings but were designed to get the participants learn about the gastronomy and cultural heritage and hopefully think of Sicily as a wine/tourist destination. Each visit to Sicily beckons you to return for more. Some invitees commented that ‘they had learnt more about geography than in school’.

The general feedback was that the people liked the wines, especially because of their excellent price-quality ratio- be it the fruity Grillo, mineral Etna Bianco made from Carricante and Cataratto grape, the light bodied Frappato, or different qualities and styles of Nero d’Avola or the two variants of sweet wines made with Moscato or Zibibbo, Moscato di Noto and doc Pantelleria respectively.

Photo By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large View

Erica di Giovancarlo, Italian Trade Commissioner with H.E.Sanfelice and his wife at the Master Class in Delhi
This is the first time Sicily had come to India in an organised way. It was also the first time Kolkata and Pune were selected as venues for a progrmme of this magnitude thanks to the gamble taken by Indian Wine Academy. ‘We wanted to avoid Bangalore because of complicated and expensive registration process, said Arora adding, ‘What was Bangalore’s loss was Kolkata’s gain. Kolkata is known as the cultural capital of India. I have no doubt that it will be the next important city besides Pune after Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore despite Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Chennai having a good potential.’

About a dozen wineries from different parts of Sicily- Tasca d’Almerita and Settesoli participated in these Master Classes, with passionate producers like Castel Venus, Colomba Bianca and Nicosia, interacting with the audience. Several of the wines tasted were much awarded and highly rated by critics and wine guides like Gambero Rosso and Luca Maroni.

Sicily is the largest island in Italy,rich in history, architecture and natural beauty. It has been fast gaining international acceptance of its wines, a majority of which are made from indigenous grapes found here only and are terroir driven. Often referred to as the Jewel of the Mediterranean and after 20 years of modernization, Sicily is coming into its own as a region where exciting and quality wines are also produced and the change showed in the class of the wines offered at the various tastings.

Master Class-Sicily was the first programme of its kind to be organized on such a large scale for Sicilian wines in India. It proved to be educational and informative besides being fun for those who attended. The events in each city were also supported well with the hotels.

Hyatt Regency Delhi had pulled out all stocks to make it a truly classy and elegant event well balanced with the quality of food and service. H.E. Giacomo Sanfelice, Italian Ambassador looked very pleased that the people he talked to, really loved Sicilian wines. Kolkata Hyatt marveled at handling the room overflowing with people with excellent seamless service and used the opportunity to showcase their Italian restaurant La Cucina, rather well-the visitors appreciated that the restaurant had been completed closed to public, being a full house for the event. The Consul General, Joel Melchiori said he was very happy that they had supported the event.

‘Mumbai can be a nightmare for any wine event as I have noticed on several previous occasions,’ said Arora. Unlike in Delhi where people are often accused of being  blasé about such events, Mumbai is notorious for apathy because of the chaotic traffic that makes travelling time from South of the city  to the northern suburbs, more than that from one part of India to the other by air. Being pre-warned helped us twiddle our thumbs for till almost 8 pm, an hour after the scheduled start; it was heartening to see a sudden surge of people filling the room. Trident BKC proved to be a perfect venue despite a couple of guests landing at the Trident in the South (at Nariman Point)- a point of caution for future organizers of programmes at Trident.

Click For Large View
Group of Seven at Hyatt Regency Kolkata
Hyatt Regency in Pune had some more pleasant surprises besides its enthusiastic service and excellent food in La Terrazza Restaurant that followed the tasting. Several important people of town came only for the Master Class, expressing their desire to learn about Sicilian wines and were visibly pleased with what they had seen, a few of those present adding it to the wish list in their travel plants and their purchase plans when these wines come to town.

The Sicilian visitors were pleased by the attendance and interest shown at these events- all of which were very well attended. For several invitees it was the first exposure to Sicily and its wines. It would be great to see some of their excellent price-quality wines available in retail in India soon. It would also be a great opportunity to see the visitors again in India as the producers seek distributors and taste them with even a wider set of wine professionals.

The following wines were tasted-in the order of service:

  Milazzo Spumante Metodo Classico G.Milazzo
  Grillo Sicilia IGP 2010 Castel Venus
  Coste al Vento Grillo Sicilia IGT 2010 Cantine Barbera
  Kore Grillo Sicilia IGP 2010 Cantine Colomba Bianca
  Fondo Filara Etna Bianco DOC 2010 Cantine Nicosia
  Rampante DOC Etna Bianco 2009 Cantine Russo
  Rosato di Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGP 2010 Castel Venus
  Frappato Sicilia IGT 2010 Feudo di Santa Tresa
  Fondo Filara Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico DOCG 2009 Cantine Nicosia
  Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG Classico 2008 Valle dell’Acate
  Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGP 2010 Castel Venus
  Cartagho Nero d’Avola IGT 2008 Mandrarossa (Settesoli)
  Don Antonio Nero d’Avola IGT Sicilia 2008 Morgante
  Rosso del Conte Contea di Sclafani DOC 2006 Regaleali
  Moscato della Torre Bianco Moscato di Noto DOC 2010 Marabino
  Passito di Pantelleria DOC 2007 Abraxas

Subhash Arora

Tasting Notes




Photo Gallery:







Rishi Vohra, CSW Says:

The wines were simply amazing and thanks to the efforts of t Indian Wine Academy, Indian consumers got an opportunity to both learn and sample them. I found them to be unique in that they were very versatile with various cuisines. I hope to see them in flooding the Indian market.

Posted @ January 30, 2012 17:24


Subhash Arora Says:

Thanks for the comment. I think you or someone else from Pantelleria had similar comments when I wrote another article a couple of years ago about Passito di Pantelleria (a with with Italan DOC appellation) In every Master class I have mentioned this feeling about the locals and even referred to the mail I had received. But please appreciate we are not politically driven but wine driven group. Pantelleria is considered part of Sicily in everything written. I cannot say it is a separate island-indeed as Sicilans claim to be Sicilians rather than Italians and call sicily as a continent and not an island. Your point is well-taken and hereby published as well. Subhash Arora

Posted @ January 28, 2012 12:50


William PoseySays:

Zibibo and Passito are products of Pantelleria, which is a small island more than 75 miles from Sicilia, closer to Africa. It has a very distinct culture from Sicily, though it is administered by the Sicilian government (Trapani). It may be important to understand the difference if you are calling yourselves participants in a master class.

Posted @ January 28, 2012 12:54


Subhash Arora Says:

I am glad you and other members of ITC group enjoyed the evening at Hyatt Delhi. Passito is indeed a unique wine that has no equal. You will be doing your discerning clients with a sweet tooth (even if they do'nt drink wine or any alcohol usually) a great favour by offering Passito di Pantelleria. Similarly the white wines from Etna are also unique on this Planet! But you know all that, I know. Talking of Nero d'Avola one of the HNW wine connoisseurs in Pune liked it so much that he wanted to place an immediate order of 20 cases of Don Antonio from Morgante- A 100% Nero d'Avola. We Indians love the flavour of a Nero, I know. Subhash Arora

Posted @ January 28, 2012 12:45


Niladri Dhar Says:

Thank you for the enlightening evening. Such events will go a long way in adding to our knowledge about unconventional regions and their specialities. Personal favourites were the Nero d'Avolas and the Passito, the latter was one of the best Muscat based dessert wines I've ever had. Would explore more opportunities for Sicilian wines in the next review of the ITC Hotels master wine list. At the moment, a brilliant Passito di Pantelleria is the representative in our portfolio. Cheers, Niladri Dhar

Posted @ January 28, 2012 12:40


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet