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The Exciting World Of Modern Sicilian Wine - And The Winemakers Behind The Magic

From the storied slopes of Mt Etna to the sprawling southern landscapes of the Iblei, Sicily is producing some of the worlds best and most innovative natural wines. Discover the world of natural wine production on the Mediterranean's largest island, and the winemakers that have put this region on the map.

Sicily has been producing wine for over 4,000 years due to it's warm climate and rich volcanic soil that makes it an ideal location for wine making. However, it is the area around Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and the wild mountainous regions to the south that have emerged as a hub of innovation and experimentation in the Sicilian wine industry. This region, with its unique terroir and natural winemaking practices, is attracting a new generation of winemakers who are producing some of the most exciting and distinctive wines in the world.

Natural Wine Making

One of the defining characteristics of the wine industry in Mt Etna is the focus on natural winemaking. This means that the grapes are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and the winemaking process is carried out with minimal intervention and meticulous respect for the soil and history of the land. The goal is to produce wines that are a pure expression of the terroir and the grape variety. Natural winemaking is not a new concept, but it has gained popularity in recent years as consumers have become more interested in sustainability and transparency in the food and beverage industry. The unique mineral content of the volcanic soil surrounding Mt Etna not only makes for dramatic generational lore surrounding the healing properties of agriculture produced within it, but also provides near perfect conditions for natural winemaking.

Meet The Makers

There are many emerging winemakers in Mt Etna who specialize in natural wine, but lets focus on a few:

One of the most notable is Frank Cornelissen, a Belgian winemaker who has been making wine in the region since 2001. Cornelissen is known for his minimal intervention approach and his commitment to sustainability. He produces a range of wines, including a rosé made from the Nerello Mascalese grape variety and a red blend made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio.

Another emerging winemaker in the region is Arianna Occhipinti, who started making wines a teenager in the south eastern area of the Iblei, an area tucked away in the mountains not far from Noto and Siracusa, about an hour south of Mt Etna. Her wines are made from indigenous grape varieties and are fermented with natural yeasts. Occhipinti's most celebrated wines are her Frappato, a light-bodied red wine that is perfect for warm summer days, and her Siccagno, made from one of Sicily's most famous grape varietals - Nero d'Avola.

Ciro Biondi, who's family has a history of winemaking on the same vineyards since the 1800s, is another winemaker who is making a name for himself in the region. Biondi's wines are predominately made from the Nerello Mascalese grape variety and are aged in oak barrels to produce rich Etna Rosso. His wines are known for their complexity and depth of flavor.

In addition to natural winemaking, the emerging winemakers in the region are also experimenting with unique grape varieties and winemaking techniques. For example, some winemakers are using the ancient grape variety Carricante to produce white wines with a distinctive minerality and acidity. Others are using the traditional method of aging wines in amphorae, which gives the wines a unique flavor profile.

If you are a wine lover, it is definitely worth exploring the wines from this region and discovering the unique history, flavors, and aromas that they have to offer. Interested in designing a wine trip to Sicily and visiting some of these producers? Let the travel experts at Isarti Travel curate a trip you'll never forget!

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