Wine lovers in search of the perfect wine experience in a region should not forget to take in the history, culture and traditions along their way. Sicily is the perfect region to discover a huge diversity of history, landscapes, architecture and tradition as you sip your way across the island.
Your journey around the Sicily wine map could begin just off the north-eastern coast by taking in the archipelago of volcanic islands that is the Aeolian islands. Here you can float between eight islands including the main island of Lipari, viticulturally the most productive, Vulcano, named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, and Stromboli, the farthest flung of the islands with its continual threat of eruptions. On the Lipari islands, you should sample the sweet passito wine, Malvasia delle Lipari DOC.
Take a ferry across to the mainland port of Milazzo and taste some Marmetino di Milazzo DOC before calling in at the Faro DOC en route to Taormino, where you can enjoy the sunset over the Tyrrhenian Sea at the well-preserved ancient cliff-top Roman theatre. Continue to Mount Etna and tour some of the highest vineyards in Italy located on the slopes of this still active volcano. Taste some elegant, mineral Etna Bianco or Rosso or maybe a varietal Nerello Mascalese and take a look at an ancient stone palmento, where wine was traditionally produced in bygone years.
The next unmissable point on your wine map of Sicily is the island’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. On your way along the coast, call in at the atmospheric ancient port town of Siracusa, where you should sip some fragrant Moscato di Siracusa before continuing to the beautiful, golden-stoned Baroque towns of Noto, another stronghold of sweet Moscato, and Ragusa.
Those with a little more time on their hands may consider flying off the immediate Sicily wine region map to its most far-flung outpost – Pantelleria. The Moscato theme continues here on this windswept little island. The island is famous for its Moscato wines, produced from Moscato di Alessandria, here known as Zibibbo, the most famous of which is the Passito di Pantelleria produced from raised grapes, dried on mats in the baking sun.
Returning to the Sicilian mainland, journey along the coast, taking in the fabulous ancient Greek temples of Agrigento, splendidly preserved and spectacular at sunset or sunrise.
Now head to Marsala, the dusty, somewhat Arabic-looking port town with its winding alleyways and hidden squares, and sample some of the island’s signature fortified wine, famous since the eighteenth century. Make sure you make a stop just outside town to see the saltpans with their characteristic red-topped windmills and heaps of salt glistening in the sun. Take a flat-bottomed boat to visit the natural reserve and vineyard on the lagoon island of Mozia.
Your meander through the Sicily wine map should include a fish dinner at the fishing town of Trapani and a visit to the hilltop town of Erice, a key Medieval citadel and also the centre of one of the island’s youngest DOCs, Erice. Erice wines are typically dry, the bianco blends are usually based on Catarratto whilst the rosso blends also stick with Sicily’s wine heritage and include 60% Nero d’Avola. However, they do boast two sweet late-harvest wines from Zibibbo and Sauvignon Blanc, along with a Zibibbo passito and rare sparkling dolce Erice Spumante.
No tour around the wine map of Sicily should forget its lively capital, Palermo, with its bustling markets, including that of the Vucciria, and fascinating architecture, not forgetting the nearby Norman-Byzantine Monreale Cathedral. Finish your wine tour here with a glass of rosso, rosato or bianco from the Monreale DOC.
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