Friday, September 9, 2016

Sicilian Wine: Grillo My Dreams

Sicily’s wines are, in a word, amazing. The grapes that seem placed on earth specifically for use on that island make delightful wines. It’s no wonder that every civilization through time has wanted a piece of Sicily. Sure, it stands guard over the Mediterranean Sea, but they were after the wine, no doubt.

Grillo is a white grape variety that grows primarily in Sicily, although some is said to be in Liguria. There, they call it something else. Of course they do. Why would a grape be called the same thing throughout Italy? Grillo was reportedly planted to replace the vines destroyed by phylloxera in the Marsala region

These particular grapes, in Firriato’s 2014 Altavilla Della Corte Grillo, are grown in the "countryside of Trapani," says their website, on the Borgo Guarini estate residing on the western coast of Sicilia. They heap a lot of praise on the estate, as can only be carried off unflinchingly in an Italian winery’s press blurb: "The wonderful, sun-drenched Guarini estate is a daily reminder of the magical powers of creation possessed by the universe, capable of transforming drops of rain and sweat into a dynamic wine recounting the most captivating tales of an insular terroir." Sign Me Up!

After harvest from the clay-based soil, the vinification process ends with three months of aging in stainless steel, in contact with the spent yeast cells, which are stirred daily. This imparts a fuller, rounder mouthfeel to the wine without sacrificing acidity. It hits 12.5% abv for alcohol content and it looks to sell online for around $15.

The 2014 Altavilla Della Corte Grillo Firriato is loaded with minerality. The lemon-lime and "wet rocks" notes really are appealing. There is also a sense of dried apricot that comes through. On the palate, the acidity is fresh and razor-sharp and the minerals make an even stronger push. I even pick up a note of the sea in there, but that happens every time I drink Sicily. It may be a trick of the vine. Pair this with shrimp scampi, sautéed calamari or escargot for a real treat.