The Wine: Rosso di Contrada Nero d'Avola 2018
Marabino Rosso di Contrada Nero d'Avola is a red natural wine made from certified organic grapes grown in the Buoni Vini district of Noto, Southern Sicily. No chemicals are added both in the vineyards and in the cellar and only native yeasts are used during vinification. The wine undergoes extended maceration on the skins after which is aged for 12 months in 60hl French oak barrels.
The Producer: Marabino
Marabino winery is located in the south-east of Sicily, in the Buonivini district in the heart of Noto valley. Marabino vineyards extend over 30 hectares and are situated on low hills, enjoying a mild microclimate from fall to Spring. This is one of the sunniest areas in Europe, with a sky that is always clear and bright.
The soil is predominantly calcareous, ranging from white limestone to black clay, and rich in minerals. The altitude varies between 30 and 80 meters above sea level, and vineyards are less than 7km from the sea.
Marabino is a biodynamic farm and is part of the Italian independent vintners consortium Vigniaioli Indipendenti, which brings together some of the most exciting natural, biodynamic, and organic wine producers on the Italian peninsula.
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.