Wines of Northeastern Sicily


Talking about wines in Sicily it’s easy to get lost. Each wine contains the flavours, colours and aromas of the area in which it is produced. You have not fully discovered the places you are visiting if you have not tasted the local specialities. Ready? Let’s go to discover this wonderful area!

Starting from the north, from the Aeolian Islands, the first DOC ( Controlled Designation of Origin) area we meet is that of Malvasia delle Lipari. Malvasia is a white wine made from two local Sicilian grapes, Malvasia di Lipari (up to 95 %) and black Corinth (5-8 %). It has a sweet and aromatic taste. Malvasia is also famous in the fortified or in the “passito” version, which is obtained from grapes subjected to natural drying and has a high alcohol content (18%). Malvasia delle Lipari is perfect to be sipped at the end of a meal, accompanied by dried fruit. Now let’s head back to the main island!

We arrive at Milazzo and we are already inside another DOC area, the one of Mamertino (or “Mamertino di Milazzo“), which includes part of the north-east of the province of Messina. Mamertino Bianco is made from the Sicilian grapes Grillo, Inzolia (or “Ansonica“, minimum 35%) and Catarratto (45%). It has a straw colour, with greenish or amber reflections and a dry and balanced flavour. Mamertino Rosso is a blend made from Nero d’Avola (or “Calabrese”, minimum 60%) and Nocera (minimum 10%), a variety that comes from the Messina area. The wine has a pale ruby colour (or brick- red in its “riserva” version) and a dry, full-bodied flavour. In the Nebrodi area it is usually served with mountain dishes of meat and cheese.

Milazzo province also has another DOC area, the one of Faro wine. The name probably comes from the ancient Greek population of the Pharii (hence the name Punta Faro or Capo Peloro), who arrived from Laconia and grew vines in the hills around Messina. From Milazzo we move north towards the Straits of Messina to taste a red wine that is made from the combination of three typical grape varieties: Nerello Mascalese (45-60%), Nerello Capuccio (15-30%) and the landlord, Nocera (5-10%). Its aroma is ethereal and delicate, but it’s taste is dry and balanced. A unique bouquet of aromas and flavours, perfect for meat dishes with Mediterranean scents, wild game and aged cheeses.

We now move southwards and stop on the black slopes of Etna. The contrast between the dark soil and the lush green of the chestnut and oak trees will leave you speechless. On Mount Etna the vine has found a very special habitat, growing up to 1100 m above the sea level. The Etna DOC zone is located entirely in the province of Catania and it can be described as ‘an island within an island’. This territory has some characteristics that make it really unique. The volcanic soil gives the grapes a special, pleasant taste and improves their longevity, especially of the white wines.

Are you ready for tasting? You are spoilt for choice! Let’s start with the Etna Bianco, a blend of Carricante (minimum 60%; 80% in the “superior” version), a vine variety from Etna, and Catarratto (from 0 to 40%), with a straw-yellow colour and golden reflections; it has a dry, fresh flavour. The garnet reflections of Etna Rosso is enchanting (also in the reserve version), it is made from Nerello Mascalese (minimum 80%) and Nerello Cappuccio (0 to 20%). The same grapes are also used to produce the Etna rosé, recognisable by its ruby colour and its strong aroma. If you love bubbles, you cannot miss the opportunity to taste the Etna spumante, rosé or white, made from Nerello Mascalese grapes (minimum 60%). It has a lingering flavour, both in brut to extradry version.

If you still want to discover Sicily through its wines, this is just the beginning of the journey. Let’s head south-east again!

But we can also head towards west: don’t worry, there’s still a lot to taste.

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