Catarratto is a white grape variety from the island of Sicily, off the toe of the boot of southern Italy. It has a long history and is the most widely planted grape variety in Sicily. However, production has been on the decline over the past few years in favor of international grape varieties. There are three clones of Catarratto. These are Lucido, Extra Lucido, and Commune. The most common of these is Catarratto Commune. In the 19th century, Catarratto found a use as the main grape in the production of Marsala wine, a fortified wine produced near the town of Marsala. Grillo, another white grape variety, overtook Catarratto as the main grape in the production of Marsala. Wines made from Catarratto can be IGT or DOC. IGT (Indicazione geografica protetta) means wines come from a defined geographic area and comply with particular legal standards. DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) means wines come from a more precise area and abide by more stringent regulations.
This week, I chose a 2020 Nostru Catarratto Lucido from Cortese. This bottle is from Terre Siciliane IGP. On the label, there is a donkey as an ode to the viticultural tradition in Sicily of man working side by side with his partner in the vineyards. I opted to pair this wine with a prosciutto and pea pappardelle. The Catarratto was a pale lemon color with grassy tone highlights. The aromas of lemon peel, white grapefruit, ripe pineapple, white peach, green apple, and ripe pear exploded from the bottle as soon as I removed the cork. The dry wine had a marked level of acidity that paired well with the light cream sauce. It contained a moderate level of alcohol, which was delightful on the mild spring afternoon I enjoyed the wine. The body of the Catarratto was more pronounced than I anticipated. Upon reading the production notes from the winery, they mentioned the use of lees aging and stirring for a period of 5 months (similar to that of last week’s Melon Blanc with sur lie). This decision by the winemaker increased the body of the wine, aided in balancing the acid, and imparted a delicate almond note to the finish of the wine. The body in the Catarratto also matched the sauce in the pasta dish. In addition to the aforementioned aromas, flavors of thimbleberry bramble, bitter lemon pith and wet stone added to the complexity of the wine. The finish evolved from the citrus, tree and tropical fruits to the bramble, stone and almond. The tropical fruits were accentuated by the prosciutto, peas and parmesan in the pasta, making for a delicious pairing. This lovely meal also added #184 to my list!