I might have to change my thought on where I wanted to grow old! Sicily had me at Hello… I have been a Tuscan girl ever since my first visit. But boy did Sicily sail up as a good choice.
Once a year the Assovini Sicilia invites journalist from all over the world to tast last years wine crop. Lucky me was invited among the wine know it alls to go explore the Caltanisetta region and 5 of their wineries. To Grumpys big frustration he was not invited and had to stay home. Yeey to luckiest me that gets to go wine tasting for a week!
My biggest question before leaving for Sicily was – do they produce any bubblies? And a big Y.E.S to that. Several wineries do and I was lucky to taste a couple of them.
We met up in Catania and then got divided up i 4 different groups. Here is my roadtrip:
Day 1 – Reason number one:
We leave Hotel NH Parco late in the afternoon and head for the vineyard for the day. Lombardo Vini are located 1 1/2 hours from Catania in the heart of Sicily. We are greeted at the winery for a tasting and start off with a really good rosé.
I am a Novise when It comes to tastings. And to my first surprise they wash the glasses in wine before we taste… imagine my utter surprise and thought…” what a waste of perfectly good wine”. Sigh.
But practice makes master.. and Slowly I am learning my way to the winetasting. We only have one stop today but we still manage to use our time at the wineyards. The owners are eager to really explain and teach us all about last years crop. As a pefect ending to the day we head out to their newly renovated farmhouse to sip some bubbly to the sunset.
We continue on to the capital Caltanisetta. The town are really quiet. Hardly any people are to be seen as we walk our way to dinner at restaurant 900. And WHAT a dinner it was. I know you never go hungry when in Italy but oh. my.god. It is a good thing we all walked ’cause boy was I stuffed after all this good food. Acompanied by some really great wine from both Lombardo and Masserai Del Feudo
Day 2 – Reason two and three:
Next day we start up early and drive for a short ride (30 minutes) to the lands of Masseria del Feudo just outside the city of Caltanisetta. And on day two I am learning even more of wine production. The fact that there are vegan wine. Are they not all you may ask? at least so did I. But no, most wines are not vegan. As many wines undergoes the clarifying prosecess animal produce, such as egg whites, are used to make the wine clear. Therefor many, if not most wines are not considered vegan!
Masseria Del Feudo does all of his wine both vegan and organic. It is important to both him and his family to have a substainable product and farm that can be substainable for many years.
We are on a schedule and hop back into the car.
I have to say I am a little surprised by the standards of the roads. They are not in the best conditions and you should prepare your self for some bumpy rides. Although they are really working on it. It is a progress. Sicily as a long way to go in improving the road standard. But I do see some roadwork here and there. And in the future it will be a smooth ride.
Lunch are booked at reason number 3: Baglio del Cristo di Campobello.
And like many of our other meals this week. This do not let us down either. I little more wiser I make sure to make small portions. A little word of advise. Cut down on the bread and the appetisers. Just when you think you have had you lunch. Inn rolls the pasta :). And always ricotta.. in many variations.
I actually started to enjoy the Ricotta on day two. And before coming to Sicily I was not a big fan.
Bagli0 del Cristo di Campobello have big plans on making one of there “Baglio” to be able to host visitors such as myself. It sits smack in the Vineyard and would make a great place to stay. Today though they are only open to daytime visitors. But you will be highly welcomed.
The day are soon coming to an end. We have a two hour drive further south east to our next destination and the highlight of my wine roadtrip.
Reason number 4 – Feudi del Pisciotto:
I am in awe… what a place and what a stay. I have always dreamt of my own farmhouse in Italy. This one is a spitting image of just that. I love this. And lucky me are staying over for a night – way to short but better then none. The peace and the quiet together with some really big and comfy rooms. Look out for a separate post on this one.
Dinner on top of the wine cellar. Quite literary on top of the barrels actually. The restaurant have just opened and we are lucky to have the first tast. If you happen to be on the road and do not want to stay over you can now drop in for some dinner. At least in the weekends. But I do recommend staying one night or two.
We have the tasting while dining therefor have time for a longer breakfast the following day. This Winery are importing to Norway. They are also in collaboration with big fashion names like Versace and Valentino who have made som very striking labels to the bottles. Loved some of their reds.
Day 3: Back on the road. After an amazing stay we are heading for the last reason – Number 5 Feudo Principi di Butera
The last Vineyard to explore. But by far not the least. This is the biggest one I have seen. I have to ask and the Vineyard are a whooping 320 hectar. It is the Family Zonin who now owns and rund the vineyards. They have big estates several places in Italy. This estate in Sicily are in spite of the size a beautiful one. Again history are kept and showcased. No overnight possibilities but there are a few places nearby if you want to come for a visit.
For me this is where I find my favourite red. The Deliella! Feudo Principi di Butero also distributes to Norway. The Deliella unfortunately no. That only means I have to come back for another taste some day soon.
3 days gone so fast. Sicily are a good Island to go road tripping. I can se myself do that again. But all road trips have to come to an end. And after a really good outdoor lunch we bid the Zonin family farewell. We will however meet up again in Catania for the big banquet at the end of the trip.
I was sceptical coming here as a wine Novice. But I have felt nothing but welcomed even as mere Travelblogger among these more experienced wine journalist. Very grateful that I got the chance to attend and I actually learned a lot on these few days.
So there you have them. 3 days and 5 reasons to Visit (although I can think of so many more). 5 really good vineyards who are open to the public and some even with accommodation options. Wine not!
Who knew that I would come home with the knowledge og different grape types and soil. Wine from Sicily are slowly getting better and better. More and more people are enjoying their Nero D´avolas and Frappatos. Taking baby steps in learning – I still care mostly of what tastes better to me. But never a stranger to change my favourite Tuscan wine with a newcomer. The Sicilian Nero D´avola. I hope you find your self to test any of Sicily´s good wine and make up your own mind.
A colleague of mine testet the Vineyards around Etna. Curious to learn more of these have a look here.