This is a wonder of a wine; made by Valentino Sciotti who makes wines in the bay of Naples (also under a volcano...), it is a lighter, fresher and more restrained, complex wine than you'd expect from Sicily and we absolutely love it. Made from a grape called Nerello Mascalese, once you've tried this wine, you'll want to find as many examples as you can!
Sicily is a fascinating place to grow grapes - with the potential for mass-produced full bodied reds, right the way up to micro-vinified whites that are some of the latest picked in Europe. The ever-dominating presence of Etna allows for grape growers to engage with volcanic soils as well as the Mediterranean influence, altitude and the heat that comes from being on a latitude level with North Africa.
These grapes are mostly grown in the southwest of the island around Lake Arancio in the Sambuca region, where warm winds are balanced by sea are and altitude, keeping vines dry and fresh during the hot summer days. The grapes are cut from the vines at harvest but before they are vinified, they dry and lose between 15 and 20% of their water content, making their sugars, colour and structural components increase in proportion to the original grape's makeup. This gives wines that are softer, smoother and richer - think Ripasso from Sicily and you won't be miles off.
Sure, it's called Il Passo, and though it's meant to represent the pathway that passes along the hills... they must be happy that it conveniently sounds like that massively popular style from the North of Italy, too.
It's a style that is beguiling in its own right and, at a moderate alcohol level too, it delivers serious bang for its buck. Soft and silky, it delivers red cherry, spice and floral notes with a long and easy finish.
Leslie Williams gave it a nice mention in his 27th January 2023 column,
Nerello Mascalese is more commonly found around Etna and a little pricey - this SW Sicily version blended with Nero d'Avola shows off the more floral, juicy side of the grape. Violet scented with ripe blackberries, luscious but elegant
Grape(s): Nerello Mascalese
Style: Smooth, Medium Full, Juicy, Fresh, Fleshy, Creamy
Best food matches: Pork, Pizza, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Grills, Fine Dining, Charcuterie