Sicily, Barolo

According to Greek legend, the god of wine Dionysus was the first to have planted a vineyard in Sicily; kick-starting the viticulture of the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It's one of the biggest wine producing regions in Italy with Veneto and Emilio Romagna the only two Italian regions that produce more. In all, the island has an impressive 134,000 hectares under vine although this area is shrinking year by year. This region produces a wide range of wines, both table and dessert wines and the grapes most famously grown there are the Nero d’Avola and Catorrato varietals. Nerello Mascalese is used to make the Etna Rosso DOC wine from the volcanic Mt Etna and Frappato is a the main grape of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.

Sicily is blessed with the most favorable climate. The summers are hot and it hardly rains, and the winters are not that cold and frost is rare. The Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing wine grapes as the coastal winds drying out grapes overnight. Because of the warm and relatively dry climate, there are less risk of rot and mildew among the grapes, so chemical sprays are rarely used. The soil of Sicily is rocky and enriched with minerals that absorb the heat during the day and release it at night, which helps the grape vines maintain an even temperature while the air around it gets cooler.
One of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions often referred to as “the Burgundy of Italy”. The now DOCG status region is renowned for producing some of Italy's finest red wines from 100% Nebbiolo.

The appellation of Barolo is located in the south of the state of Piedmont in the very north-west of Italy. The town of Barolo for which the region is named is located in the Monferrato foothills, which are a set of picturesque rolling hillsides and bordered to the north and west by the Tanaro River. The whole region sits about half-way between the major port of north-west Italy, Genoa to the south-east, and capital city Turin to the north-west. The heart of the Barolo vineyard zone, established in 1896, covers the parishes of Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba, La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba and Barolo itself, and is supplemented by parts of the townships of Novello, Verduno and Grinzane Cavour, added in 1934 to the official regional classification, and then by Diano d’Alba, Cherasco and Roddi added in 1966.

The wines made are typically fragrant and tannic with a depth of flavour and finesse like no other earning them the coveted title of ‘the King of Wines’ for centuries. Winemaking practices vary within the defined methods that the DOCG allows but there is a distinct modern and traditional divide in preferred styles.

The region has two major soil types - a sandy Tortonian marl producing a softer wine and a Helvetian sandstone clay that is known for a more robust style. The continental climate, with a long summer and late autumn enables the fickle grape to reach the perfect ripeness to create these stunning wines.

Records show that Nebbiolo has been grown in Piedmont since at least the 13th century, though despite this long history and the high quality of the wines it can produce, it is not grown in many other wine regions. For the grape grower and winemaker, making great wine out of Nebbiolo is a balancing act; it naturally possesses an incredibly high amount of acidity, and the thick skins transfer a huge amount of thick, chalky tannins into the wine. Balancing these two elements, as well as enticing out the enchanting ‘tar and roses’ notes from the grapes is the key to good Nebbiolo.
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