There are two things you can be sure of when taking a food and wine itinerary in Sicily: you will always learn something new and you will always leave a piece of your heart there when you leave. From the 13th to the 15th of July a well-organized press tour by Assovini Sicilia, led a handful of international journalists in three intense days discovering the South Eastern part of Sicily. First in the area around the village of Noto from the Baroque splendours, to the promised land of Nero d’Avola; and then in the territory of Vittoria, the area of the now unique Sicilian DOCG, with the homonymous Cerasuolo name. Many estates were visited, dozens of wines tasted together with producers, and a combination of cuisine specialties of the island that were interpreted by local cooks or starred chefs. A continuous temptation, and indeed, an inexhaustible discovery.
Sicily’s southeast, the heart of the island in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea
Sicily is in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and the largest under vine area of Italy. An area that counts a multitude of appellations that are slowly becoming more and more famous thanks to the success of productions able to clearly express the combination of Sicilian microclimates. From the vineyards on the island of Pantelleria to the extreme fields on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily is an island of unparalleled beauty and diversity. South-East Sicily certainly embodies the essence of Sicily and embraces some of the most important wine areas among the dense web of appellations of the island. Noto DOC was created in 1978 to protect the local historical passito of Moscato. Recently the regulation has been expanded to include red wines based on Nero d’Avola, which today covers up to 84% of the vineyards. The area has been under vines for thousands of years. It is a sun kissed, warm territory but it benefits from the mitigating effect of the coastal proximity. From these hills the view of the island is open, the sea breeze envelops the atmosphere, the lively green of the vineyards is matched with the dark soil. Surrounded by beautifully restored ocher-coloured farms. The neat geometry of the vine rows is organized by dry stone walls, sometimes alternated with monumental plants of prickly pears, and finally some small, sparse patches of trees that almost seem to wonder what they are doing there…The scenario around the wine district of Vittoria is different. The territories of production include the municipalities of Ragusa, Vittoria, Comiso, Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Santa Croce Camerina, Niscemi, Gela, Caltagirone, Licodia Eubea, Riesi, Butera, Mazzarino and Mazzarrone (five in the Ragusa province, two in the Caltanissetta province and two in the Catania province). The area is delimited to the north by the Erei mountains and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. The inland is occupied by the majestic Iblei mountains from which many waterways descend. The streams have dug through the land and shaped valleys on which the vineyards climb, and through the thermal breezes coming from the coast, which can deeply affect the climate, creating abnormal temperature excursions close to twenty degrees. On Vittoria’s hills the soils are differentiated by a Millennial storm water runoff, producers are able to use this to produce red wines characterized by structure and sapidity versus tremendously drinkable wines with splendid fruity notes. To visit the vineyard estates, it is necessary to go down into these valleys completely submerged by cultivations.
The possibilities are endless. The variability of climatic conditions with the multiplicity and succession of the soil (clay, sandy-loamy, limestone soils) allow producers to interpret their personal and intimate Sicily in their bottles of wines. The finesse of the Cerasuolo by Vittoria Docg is expressed in blends composed of the only two native vines allowed by the disciplinary: Nero d’Avola and Frappato, in 50 to 70% and 30 to 50% respectively. The two contrasting varieties prove to be extremely complementary. The fragrance of Frappato goes perfectly with the more meditative aspect of Nero d’Avola, creating unique wines. These styles of wines are neither light nor heavy, they go beyond any concept on the seasonality of wines. The depth and structure of Nero d’Avola is lightened and harmonized by the fresher aromas and elegance of the fantastic Frappato. Wine has to speak for the territory as much as it can give a little hint of the soul of its inhabitants. Vittoria’s wines are bright and exuberant, just like the people there.
Land of tales with a wide array of beautiful wine estates to visit.
South-East Sicily is one of the most coveted wine destinations for wine lovers and wine connoisseurs. Wine tourism has become a key factor for territorial promotion. There is an increasing number of tourists who visit these lands just to discover the wine traditions. While visitors discover the mosaic of small and large wineries hidden in every corner of those lands, the protagonists of the Sicilian wine scene have understood the infinite potential of their land and they are moving towards the future, offering a more and more impeccable travel proposals, starting from unique experiences in the cellar, through food delicatesse, to beautiful retreats. The “blend” of ancient traditions and modern cultivation practices with market strategies and investments for hospitality and tourism has made Sicily one of the most interesting wine destinations in Italy. The pulsating centre of the area is Syracuse. The City of Syracuse combines works of the Greco-Roman era, spectacular squares, artisan boutiques, and of course the breath-taking shores and a crystal-clear sea. To the Southwest lies Val di Noto. The rolling hills or the valley frame a few beautiful late-baroque towns such as Noto, Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. Perfect places to enjoy gastronomic delights in small Osterie, Taverns, or Michelin starred restaurants, surrounded by works of art and monuments that exude the history of man. The rest of the land is wild with luscious green vineyards, rocky ravines and prehistoric tombs, a thread woven between nature and man that run from the hills to an uncontaminated rugged coastline. A wide array of properties with great wine production and hospitality proposals for wine enthusiasts and wine professionals. Here are the wineries we visited during the magnificent tour.
Donnafugata in the territory of Acate boasts 36 hectares, divided into 3 districts (Biddine Soprana, Biddine Sottana and Isola Cavaliere). The grapes grown are Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Nero d’Avola, king of the Sicilian red grape varieties, is the most widespread in Sicily, thanks to its strong ability to interact with the environment. In the Vittoria area, it expresses itself with wine of medium structure and particularly fine tannins. Frappato is one of the oldest Sicilian varieties, which loves the typical climate of the DOC Vittoria area, it makes fragrant and floral wines, extremely pleasant on the palate and delicately tannic. The Vittoria winery has a wine shop and enoteca dedicated to visitors who are welcomed all year round for tastings and guided tours
Terre di Giurfo
The company was founded in 2001 by Guglielmo Alessi and his wife Giuseppina Giusino. The cantina is located in Contrada Giurfo in South Eastern Sicily, in the Province of Ragusa, in the magic, silent and old Dirillo river valley. It is spread over 90 acres of precious land that have given for years fine and tasteful grapes. Presently 35 acres are cultivated by espalier system. To assure quality to their wines, Terre di Giurfo counts on the experience of a qualified oenologist and a professional staff, on the use of thermo controlled wine-making techniques and on the constant overseeing of the whole wine-making process, from harvest to bottling. Giurfo’s estate also falls in the territory of the DOCG to the Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin (D.O.C.G) for the Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
All of the 175 acres (70 hectares) of vineyards, property of the Jacono family for six generations, are definitively certified as biological. Characterised by seven soil types of a different nature and structure, they extend all around the “Palmento alla Dispensa”. Seven different zones which offer a unique character and identity of the wine, unmistakable in their totally pure expression, one sought with constant integrity. Through the cultivation of the finest native grape varieties, the employment of technologically advanced winemaking plants, and the experience acquired by a solid tradition, Valle dell’Acate produces elegant expressions of this DOCG territory: Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico and the Cerasuolo di Vittoria Cru Iri da Iri, the DOC Vittoria Il Frappato, the DOC Sicilia Bidis-Chardonnay, Zagra-Grillo, the Moro-Nero d’Avola and Tané.
Santa Tresa: where nature, tradition and culture meet. The name comes from the contrata, or tiny hamlet where the estate is situated. It is a colloquial abbreviation of Santa Teresa, one of the best loved religious figures in Sicily. From 1697. Santa Tresa and its wines tell the story of Vittoria, which is a very Sicilian story! Stefano and Marina Girelli have let themselves fall in love with Santa Tresa, which has now developed into something even more beautiful. Santa Tresa, the soul of Sicily, has been brought back to life by a brother and sister from Trentino.
Planeta- Buonivini Estate
After establishing the first winery at Ulmo in 1994 the Planeta’s ‘Viaggio in Sicilia’ took off, in other words, the search for the best known areas of the island in order to create independent wineries and produce what would be considered the best wines in each area, working with indigenous vines while continuing to experiment with international varieties. Planeta has also devoted increasing investment and resources, under the guidance of Francesca, to the development of property activities and particularly to high-profile hospitality. The estate Buonivni became a center of hospitality linked to wine tourism (tastings, events, experiences, wine sales) and fully represent the synthesis of Planeta’s activities and their vision.
In front of you the great Leptis Magna, to the left the Peloponnese, to the right Carthage, on the hills behind you the vineyards of Feudo Maccari look out over Capo Passero and the Island of Correnti. At Noto, on the cliffs and beaches at the most southern edge of Italy, is found the new personal challenge of Antonio Moretti Cuseri. The challenge of Feudo Maccari continues. The ascent to the highest of Sicilian wine makes a stop among the whites. Not just any, but a great interpreter of classic grape varieties of the island, faithful and versatile companion of many styles.
Established in 2005 by Peter and Susie Vinding-Diers, Montecarrubo is a small estate situated on the remains of a volcano in Sicily. Montecarrubo is certified organic. The wines are made in limited quantities and are available in a number of markets around the world. The company consists of 5 hectares in the Melilli property and another 5 hectares in the one in Noto. In the first (Melilli) the two most prestigious wines are produced: Vigna Grande and Vignolo. In the second (Noto) Cuvée Suzanne and Il Carrubo are produced.
Tenuta Zisola lies in south-eastern Sicily, birthplace of the Nero d’Avola grape. It’s just a stone’s throw from Noto, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its Baroque architecture. It was here, in 2003, that the Family Mazzei began their wine-making project: 52 hectares of family-owned land extending around three Bagli (traditional farmhouses), the largest of which enjoys splendid views across to Noto and the giardini of vines, olives, citrus fruits and almonds that surround it. Tenuta Zisola is currently being converted to organic production; it will be certified fully organic by 2023. The winery is small but efficient, with vinification in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for and some 350 oak barrels in which our wines are aged. In addition to wine, we produce extra-virgin olive oil.
Assovini was founded in 1998 and it is the organization that most supported and carried out the territorial development project in the last 25 years for wine production and wine tourism. Today, along with 90 producers and nearly 900 labels produced, they are aiming to bring the fantastic value of Sicilian wines worldwide. In this direction Assovini in 2004 created the event Sicilia en premieur: A Yearly itinerant event where the producers and the members of Assovini, lead a selected international press through tastings, tours, masterclasses, conventions.
visit the website: assovinisicilia.it