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Wine history of Sicily
Sicily has an ancient wine-growing tradition, documented not only by Greek and Latin literature, but also by the discovery of vine fossils, amphorae for wine, coins with grapes and Dionysian figures.
Amphorae, jugs and cups from the time of the Phoenicians (9. to 4. century B.C.) bear witness to the flourishing trade in oil and wine and to the agricultural activities that animated the area. A few centuries later (9. to 4. century BC) the Greeks introduced vines like Grecanico, which have survived to this day. Also in this case it is the historical evidence, in particular some coins with depictions of wine scenes, that make clear the importance that wine production has always had in Sicily.
The first evidence of Sicilian wines comes from the reign of the Romans (III. century BC - V. century AD): according to the philosopher Pliny, Caesar protested in the third consulate with the Mamertino of Messina at the feast for his triumph. During the fall of the Roman Empire, the class of the great landowners established themselves in Sicily, in whose villas it was not unusual to find mosaics with scenes of the grape harvest. Due to the successive barbarian invasions, however, the cultivation of the vine was abandoned and wine production experienced a dark period.
Under the rule of the Muslims (827-61), wine production was resumed thanks to the cultivation of table grapes and the introduction of the Zebibib grape variety (Zibibbo or Moscato di Alessandria) from the African Cape Zebib, just off the island of Pantelleria. The vine and the olive tree resumed their expansion during the Norman domination and during the Aragonese domination and gained great fame. During the reign of the Spanish (1512-1713) the vineyards, olive groves and almond trees grew. The importance of wine production in this period is confirmed by the constitution of the cooper workers in Salemi 1683 and Palermo.
During the subsequent domain of the Piedmontese and Austrians, Sicilian viticulture experienced a period of crisis from which it recovered during the Bourbon period. In the second half of 19. In the second half of the 19th century, however, the phylloxera invasion destroyed most of the vineyards of the island and the vine was replaced by other cultures. At the beginning of the twentieth century, thanks to the technique of grafting American vines resistant to phylloxera, the vine returned to a culture of great importance.
The vines of Sicily
Sicily is known above all for the production of great white wines, both with local vines - Inzolia, Catarratto and Grillo - and with international vines - Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau and Sauvignon.
In the 90s of the 20. At the beginning of the 20th century the production of high-quality red wines began with the native grape Nero d'Avola and with the non-native varieties Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir.
Today they are the most famous Sicilian grape varieties:
- Nero d'Avola: red grape variety, widespread in the southeast of Sicily.
- Nerello Mascalese: Red grape variety originating in Etna.
- Nerello Cappuccio: red grape variety, also from Etna.
- Frappato: Red grape varieties originating in the southeast of Sicily (Vittoria).
- Nocera: red grape varieties originating in northeastern Sicily.
- Corinto Nero: red berry, widespread on the island of Lipari.
- Perricone: red berries, limited diffusion.
- Catarratto: White grape variety, the most widespread on the island.
- Grillo:Red, born from the crossing of Zibibibbo and Catarratto.
- Charricant: White grape variety from Etna.
- Inzolia: White grape variety; together with Grillo and Catarratto it forms the blend for the production of Marsala wine.
- Zibibbo or Moscato d'Alessandria: white berry used for the production of Passito di Pantelleria
- Malvasia:White berry, mainly used for the production of sweet wines.
- Market of Noto:White berries, used for the production of sweet wines and raisin wines from Southeast Sicily.
In addition, each type must have specific organoleptic characteristics:
- * Terre Siciliane blanco:* straw yellow colour more or less intense; fine and elegant aroma; dry to sweet, balanced, characteristic taste.
- * Terre Siciliane white late harvest: * Colour from straw yellow to golden; characteristic, fine and persistent aroma; taste from dry to sweet, typical and harmonious.
- * Terre Siciliane red:* ruby red colour more or less intense; pleasant, fine aroma; dry to sweet, harmonious taste.
- * Terre Siciliane red Spätlese:* ruby red colour, tendency to garnet red with age; characteristic, delicate, persistent aroma; taste from dry to sweet, typical, harmonious.
- * Terre Siciliane Rosé: * More or less intense pink colour; fine and elegant aroma; dry to sweet, harmonious, balanced taste.
- Terre Siciliane spumante bianco: fine and persistent foam; straw yellow color more or less intense; characteristic and delicate aroma; taste from extrabrut to sweet, fresh and **harmonious.
- Terre Siciliane spumante Rosato: fine and persistent foam; more or less intense pink colour; characteristic and delicate aroma; taste from extrabrut to sweet, fresh and harmonious.
- Terre Siciliane white Passito: Yellow, which tends towards amber with age; intense fruity aroma; dry to sweet, characteristic taste.
- Terre Siciliane raisin red: more or less intense red, tendency to garnet red with increasing maturity; characteristic and intense aroma; dry to sweet, harmonious and velvety taste.
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