Friday, December 16, 2016

Sicily's Favorite Grape: Catarratto

White wine should be interesting. There are plenty of them out there, those savory, salty, sometimes fishy white wines that refuse to be ignored. "I will NOT be Pinot Grigio," you can almost hear them scream.

It was a pleasure to discover a new Italian grape - well, it was new to me, but it’s been on Sicily for millennia. The Catarratto grape is native to Sicily, and is reportedly the most widely planted grape there. It goes by many other names, which all seem to involve a place name. Catarratto is parented by the Garganega grape.

I tried the Feudo Montoni Catarratto del Masso at Terroni in Los Angeles. I have mixed feelings about that restaurant. I love the food - and the wine - but they insist on serving their pizza unsliced, as a whole pie. You have to cut it with a knife or rip off a piece. Either way, I always end up with a slice that looks like Florida.

The grapes for the Vigna del Masso - Masso is the name of the cru where they are grown - are raised in iron-rich soil full of sand and rocks. The 55-year-old vines produce grapes which are fermented in cement containers. It checks in with alcohol at 13.5% abv.

I love the nose. A great savory aspect dominates, which my wife says smells like salami. That’s savory enough for me. The  palate leans the same way, with rocks, lime and minerals so strong. A great acidity makes for a wine that’s easy to pair with food. I had mine with the fritatta alla salsiccia. It’s a wine that was seemingly made for eggs and sausage.