Sicilia will captivate you, leave you kissed by the sun and caressed by the hills.
During a recent trip to Italy, I found myself taking shelter inside a small, apparently run-down wine bar in the center of Verona. Little did I know I had stumbled into Italy's most highly-regarded enoteca, Antica Bottega del Vino. I was surrounded by chatter in Italian, and the place was unusually packed for 4 pm on a Thursday, but I was out of the rain. Besides, the glass list was good, and I could try any Amarone I recall or pronounce. Halfway through my second glass, a Malvasia of incredible flavour but low pedigree, my ears twitched at the sound of familiar words. English. A small band of Aussies had huddled around a table and started ordering the most ridiculous array of dessert wines. Somehow, the gentleman closest in their group overheard my next order and discovered my English speaking nature. Relieved at finally conversing with other native English speakers, I took my freshly poured glass of Masi 2012 and joined their table.
Over the course of the evening, I discovered this group of Australians being led by a Sommelier, and they had traveled to Italy for a sort of holiday. We discussed a wide range of topics, but a musician among the group mentioned a winery they were excited to visit. According to his friend, the sommelier, this winery provided musical pairings for each of their wines. I was ecstatic, as I have been developing my own pairing table on the subject. No sooner had we departed than I eagerly researched Curatolo Arini, located in Sicilia.
Sicily is home to thousands of years of viticultural and eonological history. It is said that Bacchus himself first brought the vine to Sicily. Perhaps this long history is why it is now home to one of the widest varieties of wine, both in style and varietal, located within one geographic region. Or, Bacchus is very nonchalant in his vinous taste.
With more acreage of vineyard than any other wine region in Italy, Sicily's most widely planted grape, Nero d'Avola, should be a household name. However, most people are more familiar with Marsala, which is a tragedy twice over. Marsala's origin is quite recent compared to its rich, long history, and sadly, most people have only ever been introduced to poor examples on the subject.
Curatolo Arini was founded in 1875 by its namesake Vito. He chose to take on his mother's maiden name, Arini, to separate himself from other Curatolos, as he had a grand vision of producing and exporting premium Marsala across the globe. One hundred forty years later, his vision continues, making his winery the oldest family-owned Marsala producer.
Curatolo Arini's wine portfolio now extends to incredible dry white and reds. Their "Paccamora" line, meaning "at the moment," is filled with simple, generous wines to be enjoyed at the moment with friends, family, and food. Inzolia is a lovely white varietal used in the production of their Marsala. The vineyards dedicated to this grape lie in Western Sicilia, where the Mediterranean seabreeze cools off the vines at night. Bright citrus notes are balanced out with apricot, melon, and a soft touch of minerality. Nero d'Avola vineyards lie further inland with greater sun exposure leading to rich, fully ripened fruit. Curatolo Arini's Paccamora Nero d'Avola spends it maturation period in stainless steel to retain its soft, fruit character.