When you are traveling, you’ll find the unexpected, something that sticks, something that amazes. During my trip to western Sicily, I found many such experiences.
I was introduced to several wineries like Marco di Bartoli, Donna Franca, Barraco, Caruso e Minni and Cantine Barbera that were eye openers and showed the versatility in area. Others, which I already knew, such as Donnafugata and Planeta, shows the potential of growth whilst still keeping to thier roots.
I fell in love and became fond of grapes like grillo and perricone, I realized that zibbio is more than a grape for sweet passito wines but all this I know or had an inkling of.
A surprise was sparkling catarratto – we didn’t have many, in reality only two but both was really good. They sparked my interest, they made me remember, they made want more.
The first one, Castellucci Miano Spumante Brut, we had at an execelent restaurant in Marsla SLO, well worth a visit. This is of course no champagne, then again it’s not an attempt to do a copy either. It is a fresh, crisp, clean spumante with nice fruits; green apples, yellow plums, peach and some almond, good acids and some mineral notes at the end – it does the job, very well!
Castellucci Miano comes from the Valledolmo Region on the Madonie mountain, not far from Palermo, at this trip we did not visit the winery as we the trip it self was around Marsla and Menfi.
During the trip we got a taste another sparkling catarratto that also was really good, at our visit at Giacomo Ansaldis winery La Divina Baglio Donna Franca, a beautyful place which also host a hotel and resturant.
At this place we were welcomed at sunset with some sparkling catarratto – yet a again a really fresh, easy-drinking sparkling wine that’s just lovely, fresh and full of acidity. I don’t think he makes a commersial version of this wine as yet, at least I can’t find it on thier webpage.
At Donna franca we also got to taste some fantastic old marsala wine, from the 1950’s, in the wine cellar, that he calls the nursery, where he collect old perptuum marsala wines. The wines are fortified and produced via the ‘in perpetuum’ process – which is much like the solera system used to make sherry – where oxygen always have contact with the wine making it oxidized. This process lets the wine live more or less forever. In modern style marsala wine, from 1773 when English trader John Woodhouse “discovered” marsala and topped with spirits. The old way they harvested late and still got the alcohol level up til 17-18 % and did not top it, there are a few who makes it in the old. Donna franca and Marco di Bartoli for example – this is the style I prefer – and if you get the possibility I urge you to try it it so good.
The trip was part of a sponsored blogger tour of the Western Sicily by Regione Siciliana – Istituto Regionale Vini e Oli, in collaboration with Fermenti Digitali / Proposta.