You can’t say that you have fully experienced Sicily if you haven’t tasted its wines. A journey through the “sweet nectar of Bacchus” will reveal every secret of the land where you are. Are you ready?
If you’re coming from the north-east, let’s head south to discover other DOC (“Controlled Designaton of Origin”) areas in Sicily. Let’s start with the Siracusa DOC district. Here we will find international grape varieties as well as local Sicilian varieties.
White Muscat (minimum 85%) is used to make “Siracusa Moscato” (also in its raisin variety) and, if you like bubbles, you should try “Siracusa Moscato Spumante“, which goes from dry to sweet. The reds include the native “Siracusa Nero d’Avola” (at least 85% Nero D’Avola or, in its variety, “Siracusa Rosso“, at least 65%) which has a dry and pleasantly tannic flavour; and the “Siracusa Syrah“, made from Syrah grapes (an international variety that has been living on the island for a long time; minimum 85%), with its distinctive fruity aftertaste.
After a stroll through the narrow streets of Ortigia or a swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Syracuse coast, we move a few kilometres further south to the Noto DOC zone. This area includes the municipalities of Noto, Rosolini, Pachino and Avola. The island’s most famous indigenous grape variety takes its name from Avola, in fact it is worldwide known as the Nero d’Avola. Noto Rosso (minimum 65%) and Noto Nero d’Avola (minimum 85%) are both made here. Its violet reflections and its tannic yet fresh flavour are very fascinating. Before leaving you must taste whites too! The famous ‘Moscato di Noto‘ has different variations as wine, sparkling wine, fortified wine or raisin wine, it is always made exclusively from 100% pure Moscato grapes. A stroll through the late Baroque town of Noto is a must, but if you prefer nature, take some time to explore ancient Noto or Cavagrande del Cassibile.
We don’t have to travel too far to get to the next destination of our journey. Heading towards the southernmost point of the island, we enter the Eloro DOC land. The area includes the territory of four municipalities in the province of Syracuse (Noto, Pachino, Portopalo di Capopassero and Rosolini) and one municipality in the province of Ragusa (Ispica). The red wines are the undisputed masters of the area. The local grapes are rich in salts and are used almost in purity: Eloro Nero d’Avola, Eloro Frappato and Eloro Pignatello (all obtained with at least 90% of the related grape variety). The exception is ‘Eloro Pachino‘, a blend of Nero d’Avola (minimum 80%) and Frappato and/or Pignatello ( the remaining percentage) with a tannic and strong flavour. If you like rosé wines, you’ll be enchanted by the greyish pink colour and slightly acidic flavour of Eloro Rosato. Don’t leave without having a stroll on the wild beaches or swimming in the Caribbean waters of this unspoilt part of Sicily.
We now head westwards to the Vittoria DOC area, which is also the only DOCG ( “Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Denomination” ) area in Sicily, with its Cerasuolo di Vittoria. The area goes from the province of Ragusa, the southern edge of the province of Caltanissetta to the western end of the province of Catania. Here you can taste the local Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Ansonica (or Inzolia) and Novello. But the main star of the area is certainly: Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, a famous blend that won the most prestigious award. Cerasuolo is made from Nero d’Avola (50%-70%) and Frappato (30-50%). You will be amazed by its cherry-red colour and its floral scent, which, in aged wines, can recall prunes and chocolate aromas.
Moving north, we find the Riesi DOC area, which includes the municipalities of Butera, Mazzarino and Riesi (province of Caltanissetta). Here the production satisfies all tastes: from Riesi rosso (Nero d’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon) to Riesi superiore (Nero d’Avola minimum 85%); from Riesi rosato (Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) to Riesi bianco (Ansonica and Chardonnay; also in the “spumante” and “late harvest” types).
We are now ready to set off again and cross central Sicily in order to reach the extreme western tip.
On the other hand, if you have not tasted the North East wines yet, get ready to discover the following route.