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Regions

Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Sicily

The region with the capital Palermo is with 25.703 km² land area the largest in Italy and also the largest island in the Mediterranean. This includes the south-western island of Pantelleria and the northeastern Aeolian Islands. The Greeks founded on Sicily from the 8th century BC onwards. Chr. and named them Trinacria after the triangular form. Later they gave it its final name after the Siculi mountain people. They brought their viticultural techniques and vines, including the ancient varieties Eugenia and Murgentina. These were later brought to central Italy and planted. The Murgentina, as a "Pompeian grape", thrived particularly well on the volcanic soil on the Vesuvius slopes in Pompeii and in the ancient Etruscan town of Clusium (Chiusi in Tuscany). The cities of Syracuse and Taormina (on Etna) developed into flourishing wine trading centres. Documentary evidence of vineyards can be found in the settlement of Akragas (Agrigento) from the 5th century B.C. Sicily played an important role in the development of Italian viticulture.

Sizilien - Weinberge in Menfi und Landschaft

In the course of the second Punic war, the island became a Roman province in 212 BC after centuries of warlike conflict and was used mainly as a granary. Among the ancient wines mentioned by Pliny the Elder (23-79), two from Sicily appear. The first one is a Mamertinum from Messina, which was supposedly appreciated by Julius Caesar (100-44 BC). The second is a Haluntium from Syracuse, whose successor could be the Moscato di Siracusa. From the 7th to the 9th century Sicily came under Ottoman rule. Although the Ottomans tolerated vine growing, raisins were the main crop. The Ottomans brought with them the art of distillation, which was adopted by the Catholic orders. In the Middle Ages grain was the most important agricultural product. From the 14th century the vineyards expanded and Sicilian wines were exported to Northern Italy and Constantinople.

The vineyards cover around 101,000 hectares, making Sicily by far the largest Italian wine-growing region (which, by the way, is roughly equivalent to the area under vines in Germany or more than twice in Austria). They are situated at an altitude of up to 900 metres above sea level, mainly in the west and south-east. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by very hot, dry summers with little rainfall. Especially in the south of the island African conditions prevail. But due to the slopes with intensive sunshine and large temperature fluctuations between day and night there are very good conditions for viticulture. The poor soils are mostly of volcanic origin.

In spite of the hot climate, the white wine varieties predominate by far in terms of area, the most important ones being Ansonica(Inzolia), Carricante, Catarratto Bianco with the varieties Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido, Chardonnay, Fiano, Grecanico Bianco/Lucido(Garganega), Grillo, Malvasia di Lipari, Minella Bianca, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco(Pinot Blanc), Pinot Grigio(Pinot Gris), Sauvignon(Sauvignon Blanc), Trebbiano Toscano, Viognier and Zibibbo od. Moscato di Alessandria(Muscat d'Alexandrie). The most important red wine varieties are Alicante(Garnacha Tinta), Cabernet Sauvignon, Calabrese(Nero d'Avola), Carignano(Mazuelo), Frappato, Merlot, Gaglioppo, Mondeuse(Mondeuse Noire), Nerello Cappuccio or Nerello Mantellato, Nerello Mascalese, Nocera, Pignatello(Perricone), Pinot Nero(Pinot Noir), Sangiovese or Corinto Nero and Syrah.

The production of table grapes occupies a leading position. Sweet wines were a speciality in antiquity, and nothing has changed in this respect to this day. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Englishman John Woodhouse invented the dessert wine Marsala here, which made the island mainly known as a wine supplier. The vast majority of the wine production is used for distillation or for mass production of simple wines. And only a quarter of the total quantity of wine is bottled on the island. It was not until 2005 that the very first DOCG classification was made with the red wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria. The 6 IGT areas are Avola, Fontanarossa the Cerda, Salemi, Salina, Terre Siciliane and Valle Belice. The 24 DOC/DOCG areas:

Among the most famous producers on the island are Abazzia Santa Anastasia, Adragna, Ajello, Alagna, Alcesti, Benanti, Calatrasi, Ceuso, COS, Cusumano, Marco de Bartoli, Cusumano, Donnafugata, Duca di Salaparuta, Fatascià, Feuda Principi di Butera, Firriato, Florio, Geraci, Judeka, Marchiopolo, Morgante, Maurigi, Salvatore Murana, Nanfro, Occhipinti, Palari, Pellegrino, Planeta, Principi di Spadafora, Rapitalà, Settesoli, Tasca d'Almerita and Valle Dell'Acate

Picture left: from Fabio Ingrosso - Flickr: Cantine Settesoli, CC BY 2.0, Link
Picture right: from Peter H on Pixabay

Classified producers: 9
Wines tasted: 781
In this section you will find
currently 144,156 Wines and 22,865 Producers, including 2,413 classified producers.
Rating system Their sources in Wine Guide Wine Samples

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