This week we are continuing around the island of Sicily to another of the authorized grape varieties on the island, Carricante. Carricante is an ancient indigenous white grape and the main grape in Etna Bianco, DOC wines. These wines must, by law, contain a minimum of 60% Carricante. There is also a level of wine called Etna Bianco Superiore, DOC. These wines must contain 80%. The remaining components of these blends are usually Catarratto and Minella Bianca but can vary and even contain international grapes like Chardonnay. Carricante vines have been growing on Mt Etna for over a thousand years. The best wines containing Carricante are made from grapes grown in the volcanic soils of this area. The name Carricante comes from Carica, meaning ‘load’ in Italian. It is a nod to the vines’ high level of yields. Vineyard workers must prune foliage and extra, less developed bunches of grapes, to limit these yields in order to produce more concentrated and complex wines.
I chose a bottle of 2019 Scilio Valle Galfina Etna Bianco that is 100% Carricante to inch closer to my 200th grape variety. Aromas of gardenia, orange blossom, honeysuckle, white peaches, lemon and lime peels, white grapefruit, and wet stone rose from my glass of pale lemon wine. Its watery legs wasted no time trickling down the sides of the goblet. The refreshing level of acidity wasn’t enough to make me pucker but did wake up my salivary glands. While I sipped this dry wine with light body and moderate alcohol content, I thought of how lovely it would be on a nice summer afternoon. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, we haven’t had many of these yet this year though. The aromas were all apparent on the palate but didn’t linger too long, requiring me to take more frequent sips. This bottle was bright and young. It probably will not improve over time but it was lovely to drink now. Carricante would be fantastic with light fish, seafood, or white meat dishes. As I sipped it, I couldn’t help but think how delicious it would be with a pea, prosciutto, and parmesan risotto. This bottle accounted for wine variety #195 for me!