The last month in Sicily there was a female press tour, to promote the local wines and lands. It was organized by Doc Sicilia Consortium: five american journalists of specialized press and overseas lifestyle have visited eleven sicilian wine cellars and the beautiful places of the Oriental Sicily as Caltagirone downtown, Ragusa Ibla, Noto, Modica and Taormina. A tour was based on the stimulation of sensation through the wine, the winery and the story of the fascinating Sicily.
The Wine Reporter is publishing – in excluvisity – the interview to a partecipant of the tour: Leslie Sbrocco, journalist with Italian origins, but American at 100%. Here what she brings with herself in her country about the beautiful Sicily.
Here you go!
- What is the perception of Sicily in the United States? Let me explain: it is perceived as a still unknown land, charming, a region with some problems, rich in history. etc …
Though Sicily is still relatively undiscovered for Americans, most of those who have heard of or been to Sicily have very positive opinions. Gone is the image of it as a mafia hotspot. Now, Sicily is just a hot spot to visit.
- If this is your first visit to Sicily, what are the uses, customs, ways of doing things that have intrigued you the most and why. There are stereotypes that you had and that – dop the visit – have dissolved?
It was my first trip to Sicily and I was so impressed. The diversity of food, wine, and landscape – from beaches to mountains – was more than I expected. It was rugged and remote but with a sense of international style. I found myself saying “the country of Sicily” even though I know it’s part of Italy. Sicily is just so unique. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and was asked if I was Sicilian!
- What is ‘wine’ in the US today? How and when are you use to drink, what doest it mean ? What kind of wine you drink or do you prefer to drink? Has the wine to be paired with food or not in the US? What are the age ranges of wine lovers ?
The US is the world’s largest consumer of wine. We are a growing nation of wine drinkers with young, millennial consumers and women driving the growth of sales. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot top the sales, but three is growth in sparkling wine, dry rose and alternative, adventurous varieties. Sales in the $20 and under category is a sweet spot making wines from Sicily well placed for growth.
- How did you find Sicilian wines you’ve tasted til now? You found them exactly as you expect them or you are suprised ? if so, why?
Before my trip, I tasted a fair amount of Sicilian wines. Most were Nero d’Avola or Etna Rosso. I also discovered some sparkling rose from Etna, which was delicious. My image was usually of inexpensive yet quality red wine. The real discovery for me was the amazing whites: Grillo, Cattaratto and Insolia. There is a future in the US for these crisp, character-driven whites.
- In your opinion, are the wines and the inhabitants of Sicily in some ways similar in their character ? I mean : the wine is the expression of who does it or of his land.
There is certainly a sense of place in the Sicilian wines. Grillo makes me think of sun, sand, and seafood, while the refreshing Frappato is the perfect expression of the uniqueness of Sicilian wine. It alone makes me yearn for my return visit. Both wines are poised to do well on the American on-premise (restaurant) market because they’re such food friendly wines.
- How did you find the area of Sicily? What fascinated you the most? for example: landscapes, monuments, roads, culture, gastronomy, etc. What do you think about the ‘internal’ road of the island?
There were many fascinating areas, but for me the most interesting was the valley of the temples. I had little idea about the rich Greek culture and history of Sicily. I knew it had been conquered by many people from Moors to Normans, but the Greek ruins were one of the highlights of my trip.
- How should be the wine in the coming years and how should be in particular the Sicilian wine? I mean: softer, less alcoholic, more immediate, more red, more bubbles, etc.
More frappato, grillo and bubbles 😉
- What advice would you love to give to the producers of Sicilia Doc you met to better communicate their company, the products and the territory in which they are located ?
The story is native varieties and how they are different from other wines on the market. Also, the variety of styles for example the various versions of Nero d’Avola – from light to lush. The wines must be tied to the land and Sicily has such diversity to discuss with the world market.
- What are the main differences between Sicilian wineries and Californian ones ?
There is a similar sense of fruit-forward succulence, but due to native varieties such as Grillo and Nero d’Avola Sicilian wines also sport a unique elegance and earthy quality.
- If you close your eyes with a glass of a Sicilia Doc wine, what comes to your mind?
The wineries of the tour are: Tasca d’Almerita, Feudo Montoni, Masseria del Feudo. Baglio del Cristo di Campobello. CVA Canicattì, Feudo Principi di Butera, Maggio Vini, Tenuta del Gigliotto, Valle dell’Acate, Gulfi, Cottanera.
The five journalists who have partecipated are: Leslie Sbrocco (Media Personality & Wine Expert & CNN contributor), carolyn O’Neil (Award. Winning Food and Travel Journalist), Ziggy Eschliman (Wine & Spirits Journalist), Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson (Lifestyle Writer, Director), Kat Odell (Drinks Editor)
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