Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grillo from Marsala, Sicily & I'm not talking grasshoppers

I went to a fun Italian wine sampling last week at one of my local wine shops, The Wine Steward. They specialize in small wineries that you may not see at all the big retailers in mass production. Kevin Powell, from Vinilandia, conducted the tasting and provided a very fun and informative tasting paired with his personal experiences meeting some of the owners in Italy himself. I'll cover a couple of these wines this week starting today with the grape grillo from Sicily.

Grillo is a grape that has always been understood for its contributions in the fortified wine, marsala. Marsala is not just the fortified wine, but is also a town located in western Italy. Most of the grillo grapes are used in production for the gold, oro, or amber, ambra, levels of marsala wines. Over the years grillo, also known as riddu, has been making it's way to being produced more as a still wine either blended with other grapes or being able to express itself solo as it was in the wine I sampled.

Marsala, Sicily sunset
Marsala, Sicily sunset by Amaya and Laurent

The struggle with this grape for production of a still wine are the temperatures in Sicily.  With the sun beating down and the hot days that the climate there provides the grapes can potentially over-ripen, hence why it's always been successful in producing the fortified marsala wines. Luckily they have sea breezes blowing in to mediate the affect of the temperatures, but it's important to harvest these grapes before it gets to that point. 

Tola winery in sicily with grillo grapeI sampled the 2011 Grillo from producer Tola. It is made of 100% grillo. The Tola family has been making wine for three generations. This grillo was soft pressed and fermented in stainless steel. On the palate it shows citrus with lemon shining through, combined with some ripe pineapple and fresh acidity. It's good to pair it with chicken or fish that has a lemon or cream based sauce.  

Tola winery in Marsala, Sicily
Tola Winery

I have another wine from this tasting that was my favorite of the evening. Next, we will be covering Dolcetto d'Alba from one of my favorite wine regions, Piedmont. Don't miss it! 

You can find more about the Italian wine regions including Sicily using this beautiful and detailed map.

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