This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Wines of Sicily.
The wines under the Sicilia DOC, which was established in 2011 and covers the entire region of Sicily’s main island and smaller satellite islands, are loved by sommeliers and wine buyers for their remarkable quality and value-driven price points. Many buyers have remained enamored with the island because of the rich variety of wines it offers. With vineyards spread all over the region, buyers have an incredibly diverse selection, from coastal, maritime expressions to high-altitude, volcanic wines.
Thanks to a wide array of native grape varieties grown in a range of soils types and climates, the wines of Sicilia DOC offer something for every palate. Here are three key reasons why Sicilia DOC wines should be top of mind for buyers.
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1. Sicilia DOC Represents a Broad Range of Island Terroirs
While Sicily boasts 98,000 hectares of vineyards spread across the entire island, its terroir is in no way monolithic. Its diversity of soils, climates, and geography provides a broad tapestry for its vineyards to express a range of unique micro- and macro-climates.
Thanks to its complex geologic past, the soils of the island span from volcanic to calcareous to schist, with varying textures that can range from sandy to rocky. In the northern part of the island, stretching from Palermo in the west to Messina in the east, mountains dominate the landscape, with soils predominated by schist and calcareous sedimentary cover, while the soils surrounding Mount Etna are volcanic in nature. In the southeast, hills and coastal plains have limestone soils with a sandy texture. The central-southern and southwestern areas are hilly with chalky clay soils. The western portion of the island near the cities of Trapani and Marsala offer a mix of hills that cascade into plains as they approach the coast. This area offers a mix of red marine sedimentary rock and marly limestone.
Sicily is generally considered to have a typical Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny summers and mild winters, yet its geologic diversity assures distinct subclimates. While the hilly interior is influenced by higher altitudes and experiences large diurnal temperature shifts, the coasts are temperate and mild thanks to cooling sea breezes. The mountains in the north see the most rainfall and are cooler than the rest of the island. These climatic differences offer a wide range of optimal harvest times across the island, beginning in late July and lasting until the end of November.
2. Sicilia DOC’s Native Grape Varieties are Stealing the Show
Few regions in Italy can provide as diverse an array of wine grapes as Sicily. Its unique range of terroirs supports a strong mix of varieties, with 14 different indigenous grapes and 13 international varieties allowed to be bottled under the Sicilia DOC. The international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay may have been top of mind for buyers in the past, but sommeliers and buyers today are most intrigued by the DOC’s native red and white grapes.
For reds, the trio of Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Perricone covers a wide range of drinking styles. Within the island’s most planted red grape alone—Nero d’Avola—there’s a range of styles from light-bodied, supple reds to complex, concentrated versions, yet all retain the variety’s hallmark refreshing acidity. Frappato is the island’s answer to light-bodied elegance, typically showcasing juicy red fruit and delicate tannins, while Perricone delivers tension and depth highlighted by intense, savory aromatics.
White grapes account for the majority of the vineyard plantings on the island, with Lucido (Catarratto), Grillo, Inzolia, and Grecanico at the top for native varieties. Grillo has emerged as the star white grape thanks to its adaptability to Sicily’s varied terroirs, though it is most synonymous with the area around Trapani where it has historically been used in Marsala production. Its white wines range from zesty and fresh to rounded and textural with prolonged aging on its lees.
3. Sicilia DOC is Leading the Charge in Organic and Sustainable Farming
Sicily’s generally warm, sunny climate and dry growing season provide a haven for organic farming. In fact, the region leads the country in number of vineyards farmed organically, accounting for around a third of the total of organic vineyards planted in Italy.
Taking it a step further, key stakeholders on the island have created the SOStain Foundation, an organization that promotes sustainable viticulture. Open to all winemaking entities in the region—no matter if they follow conventional, organic, or biodynamic farming practices—this program has 10 minimum requirements that must be followed in order to bear the SOStain label. These include the absence of chemical herbicides, the use of light-weight bottles, the promotion of biodiversity in the vineyard, and rigorous testing of the final product to assure the absence of agricultural residues.
During the months of September through November 2022, retail and restaurant partners across the country can explore what makes this denomination so unique by participating in the ‘Make Every Hour Golden, It’s Sicilian Wine Time!’ program, which aims to showcase the immense diversity and value that can be found within the category through events like educational sessions and in-store tastings.
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