The Wine: Heritage Zibibbo Orange 2019
Gabrio Bini Heritage Zibibbo is a skin-contact wine made from 100% Zibibbo grapes grown on Volcanic soils on Pantelleria Island, off the coast of Sicily. Biodynamic farming; the grapes are destemmed and gently pressed; maceration on skins, 20 day spontaneous fermentation in buried terracotta jars (amphora). Aged for 3 months in amphora, bottled unfiltered, no added sulfites.
The Producer: Gabrio Bini
In a former life Gabrio Bini was an eccentric architect in Milan. Now, he’s a an eccentric winemaker in an eccentric place: the tiny volcanic island of Pantelleria. This rugged sliver of land, 15km long, population 7000, is closer to Tunisia than Sicily and is known more for its hot springs and capers than wine. This is a fitting backdrop for Bini, who ferments 100% naturally with no sulphur and in buried clay amphorae.
He works with Pantellerian natives pignatello, catarratto, and zibibo, all of which see extended contact with their skins. His wines are wild expressions of this wild place and tend to evolve dramatically in the glass.(source: Zev Rovine)
The Region: Sicily
Sicily is Italy’s biggest island and also its biggest region. It’s separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina (Stretto di Messina). The capital of Sicily is Palermo, a majestically decadent multicultural city offering one of the richest culinary traditions in Italy.
Sicily’s history and culture are fascinating, to say the least. Their complexity is manifest in the diverse architecture of its cities. All over the region and particularly in Palermo we can find Arab, Greek, Roman, and Spanish influences in the layout of the city as well as in the food and local language.
Sicily is the third biggest producing country in Italy, behind Veneto and Tuscany. The quality of Sicilian wines has increased steadily in the past 30 years. Some international grape varietals - mainly chardonnay and syrah - have found a place in Sicilian viticulture, traditionally dominated by native varietals such as Nero d’Avola, Catarratto, Grillo, and Inzolia.
The Terroir of Sicily
Sicily proximity to Northern Africa and position right at the center of the Mediterranean reflect deeply on its climate. Endless sunshine, moderate rainfalls, and good aeration characterize pretty much the whole region with minor seasonal variations. Palm trees and other tropical plants and fruits are a fairly common sight in Sicily all year round.
Among the several benefits of this climate one stands out: in Sicily, grapes can grow without being imperiled by mildew, rot, or any other disease brought by too much humidity. Sicilian grapes are generally speaking naturally healthy, hence the substantial number of certified organic or biodynamic wineries.
The Red Wines of Sicily
The most widely planted red grape varietal in Sicily is Nero d'Avola, which accounts for about 20% of the total regional wine production. Frappato is another prominent red varietal, used to make the only DOCG wine in Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.
Less common but typical of Sicily are Alicante, similar to Grenache, Nocera, and Perrone often blended with Nero d'Avola. On the slopes of the active volcano Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Cappuccio are key red grape varietals in the popular Etna DOC appellation.
The White Wines of Sicily
Marsala and Passito di Pantelleria are perhaps the most famous Sicilian white wines, although their popularity has been waning over the years in favor of dry and refreshing white wines made from native varietals Inzolia and Grillo are fairly easy to find in the United States and generally very good.
In a similar way to Umbria, the Central Italian region known for the red tannic wine Sagrantino di Montefalco, Chardonnay has found its place also in Sicily. Chardonnay from Sicily can vary in quality depending on the producer.
On Primal Wine we sell one of the few 100% Chardonnay vinified with extended skin-contact in the style of an Orange Wine made by the excellent Marabino winery from organically farmed grapes.