A Journey through Sicily’s Vineyards
The wine list of Il Consiglio di Sicilia includes about two hundred Sicilian labels, mostly from small producers, with a space dedicated to natural wines. Our cellar is very small and forces us to rotate in order to give visibility and the possibility to enjoy to all the wines we fell in love with in our "investigations" walking around the vineyards between Sicily and the smaller islands. We welcome you here with a small guide to the native Sicilian vines and to the labels that know how to express their personality.
More than a vineyard, it is the engine of Etna's viticultural revival. It is the soul and the thrust of all White Etna wines of value and quality that the volcano gives us, both pure (Pietramarina di Benanti, Etna's first great enological success) and in blends that are simply close to perfection.
Even if it’s not as in vogue as others, Catarratto is the most successful grape of Sicilian vineyards. From the West Coast, it spread into the regions of Agrigento and Palermo where it produces excellent results (12 Filari by Case Alte, Lustro di Abbazia San Giorgio), making it as far as the Etna, where it happily marries Carricante grapes in extremely expressive blends.
The ubiquitous Chardonnay in Sicily has been interpreted in some extremely interesting ways, smoothly and elegantly, from Etna to Agrigento (Passobianco by Passopisciaro and the vintage from Famiglia di Milazzo's Selection).
The name seems to allude to a grape of Greek origins. The nostalgics who can’t find a Sauvignon in our wine list will be happy to taste this wine, as the Grecanico grape is reminiscent of the same aromas. Although it is more commonly cultivated on the Western part of the Island, it produces unforgettable results when cultivated on the Etna and the surrounding areas, both pure and in blends.
Once upon a time Grillo was cultivated only in the western part of the island, and was the soul of the very famous Marsala. From there, Grillo had recently spread with the vitality of the latest trends, all the way to the regions of Syracuse, Messina, Agrigento and naturally its homeland, Marsala. Grillo grapes can take on many forms: intense and carnal bubbles (Terza Via Riserva Cuvée by De Bartoli), dry white wines rich with suggestions (Olli by Feudo Maccari, Grillo Parlante by Fondo Antico), cheerful blends with Zibibbo (Sole e Vento by De Bartoli), and even with Nero d’Avola (Terza Via Rosé by De Bartoli, a fascinating bubbling rosé).
It’s the most antique throughout the autochthonous Sicilian grapes; it gives personality and character to intensely aromatic dry white wines (Inzolia Vigna dei Fornelli by Feudo Montoni). Blended with Chardonnay, it expresses itself in chic and innovative bubbles (V38AG by Azienda Agricola Milazzo).
In the collective imagination Malvasia is tied to dessert wines, but in reality, this grape, (which in the Middle Ages found extraordinary luck in sweet wines throughout the basin of the Mediterranean sea) today performs even in white wines that can graciously accompany your meal from the starter to the main. It offers musky and fruity fragrances both in its pure form (Occhio di Terra by Caravaglio) and in blends with Inzolia (Iancura by Hauner). And if the ancient greeks drank something to accompany their dessert, and if this something was ambrosia, it must have had much in common with Malvasia Riserva 2015 by Hauner.
MOSCATO DI ALESSANDRIA (ZIBIBBO)
Originally from Egypt, it happily landed in the island of Pantelleria, where it expresses itself in sweet wines made from puckered grapes (Bukkuram Riserva 2000 by De Bartoli), in extremely fruity and intense white wines to pair with your meal (Orange by Abbazia San Giorgio). But also near Marsala (Zibibbo by Nino Barraco) and Messina (Casebianche by Enza La Fauci), this magic grape transports us with spell-binding visions of the ancient Orient.
MOSCATO DI NOTO
It’s cultivated in all of South-Eastern Sicily. In the past it translated only into fresh and simple dessert wines; nowadays it expresses itself in fascinating and perverse white wines (Moscato Brut di Cantine Russo), almost oxidized (Salipetrj by Armosa).
More than a vineyard, a piece of island history: brought by the Spanish rulers, the Spanish cousin of the French Grénache expresses in beautiful and pure ways (Arundo by Azienda Agricola Meridio) and in very promising blends with Frappato and Nero d'Avola (La Moresca Rosso by Filippo Rizzo).
An archeo-vine that owes its name to the Corinthian settlers who brought it to the Aeolian Islands. Sensual, vibrant in colour, unforgettable (Corinto Rosso by Tenuta del Castellaro).
It seems that this grape originated nearby in the region of Ragusa, where it expresses itself at its best, light and fruity, in graceful blends with Nero d’Avola (Liama by Azienda Agricola Meridio) or in its pure form (Frappato by Guglielmo Manenti). More recently, it is in newest crus “vini di contrada” (FL, PT, BB by Arianna Occhipinti).
From the slopes of the Etna, it spread north towards Messina (Terre di Vento by Enza La Fauci). The volcano gifts it longevity, intensity, and a higher alcohol content. We fall in love more and more every time we climb the volcano and visit its vineyards (I Nove Fratelli by Masseria del Pino, Riserva Trimarchisa di Tornatore, Riserva Archineri by Pietradolce). It’s lovely to discover the new subtleties with each new harvest. And what about the Nerello Mascalese grown in Pantelleria, which when vinified in a rosé version contains all the aromas of the island? (Cloè di Abbazia San Giorgio)
Once, Avola was known only for its almonds and for the historical revolts of its manual laborers. Now it’s known worldwide for Nero d’Avola. After being used for centuries as a wine to cut with great red wines from Piedmont and France, Nero d’Avola is now amongst those select red wines of intense fascination (Syclis by Armosa, Saia by Feudo Maccari, Vrucara by Feudo Montoni, just to name a few) in blends of medium body and cheerful finesse with Frappato (Liama di Società Agricola Meridio), as well as elegant, airy bubbles (blended with Grillo grapes, in De Bartoli's Terza Via Rosé).
Used almost exclusively in blends together with Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Nero d'Avola, this vine cultivated in the Messina area since the times of the ancient Romans is one of the four souls of the Faro, which if it were a music would be a Sicilian fado (Oblì di Enza La Fauci).
We like the history of its second name, Pignatello: it derives from “pignatadare” which in Sicilian dialect describes a tract of land with red soil in the Trapani area. The soil from this area was traditionally used to make earthenware pots. Having fallen into disgrace for a few decades, Perricone, or Pignatello, has been recuperated and used to make excellent wines, by enlightened wine makers (Perricone Vigna del Core di Feudo Montoni; Perricone di Porta del Vento).
Forget the escalopes. The vintage Marsala wines of our selection have the solemnity and the intensity of the great meditative wines. And they are all available by the glass! From De Bartoli's forty-year old Samperi to Florio's Aegusa 1964, we offer you a journey into the glorious past of the island, among hints of liquorice, chocolate and coffee. Kaleidoscopic, they gift infinite perceptions and a certain persistence over time and memory.