Sicily Tour du Vin 2021

We have returned from a fabulous 4 days in Italy with 16 Waud Wine Club tourists for our Sicily Tour du Vin.

Following a successful English Wine Tour in July, it was great to return to business as usual with an overseas tour to Italy.

We flew into Catania Airport on Wednesday, picked up the two Fun buses and headed towards our first tasting of the tour at Pietradolce, whose wines are grown on and around Mount Etna. This was an excellent first stop. Having recently built a brand spanking new winery – we were treated to a tour with Giuseppe the head winemaker, where we checked out some amazing art from local artists around the estate. We tried their rose (Pietradolce Etna Rosato), one white (Archineri Etna Bianco), followed by 4 reds – Pietradolce Etna Rosso, Archineri Etna Rosso, Contrada Santo Spirito and Barbagalli – they were all delicate and mineral in style, which set the tone for all Etna wines we were to try over the next few days.

As we were leaving Pietradolce to head to our hotel in Cefalu, the weather turned and we experienced monsoon style weather for the next few hours. We finally made it to Hotel Alberi del Paradiso, before heading out to dinner locally.

We woke up on day 2 to shorts weather, that was a real relief! We continued to head West towards Marsala where we visited Curatolo Arini – a fantastic family winery. We were welcomed by three generations of the family, as well as Export Manager, the effusive Carlo, who showed us around, and started the trip off with barrel samples of three different white wines, including Catarratto, Inzolia as well as Zibibbo (otherwise known as Moscato di Alessandria). We then learnt the background of Marsala wines, (click here to read about the history of Marsala wines). and tasted dry (Marsala Superiore Riserva 2012) and sweet Marsala (Superiore Dolce) from different vintages over a fantastic lunch. After a team photo with all tourists and family members, we said our goodbyes and head further West to our next winery at Donnafugata.

This was a serious step up in scale from the morning tasting – as Donnafugata have five plots across the island of Sicily, including one of them on the Pantelleria island. We tasted two fabulous white wines, including Sul Vulcano that is an AOC white wine from Etna. We then tasted the corresponding red wine, before moving on to the Mille una Notte red wine, that was fantastic. This was then followed by our first sweet wine on tour, as well as being the iconic Donnafugata wine – Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria 2019.

After heading around the corner to our hotel, we taxied a short distance to dinner at Parrinello Pescheria e Cucina – a brilliant fish restaurant where we enjoyed copious amounts of local white wines, as well as some rather large Swordfish!

We left the hotel on Day 3 in the Fun buses, heading back East again to visit Mandrarossa in Menfi. Mandrarossa is the central business in a cooperative of 70 growers, so they can select the best variety/terroir conditions for their restaurant/fine wine range. Making circa 1 million bottles each year, they had a fantastic range from across Sicily. We tasted two wines from Etna before moving onto a wonderful selection of Menfi wines – including a delicate white (Bertolino Soprano), two very pleasing Nero d’Avolas (Cartagho and Terre del Sommacco) and their dessert wine, Serapias, which received high praise among the group. We look forward to adding more of their wines to our range.

After another great lunch, this time at Da Vittorio Tavolo, another top fish restaurant that looks over the ocean, we headed back towards Marsala to visit a family business at Caruso & Minini for the final tasting of the day.

After another entertaining night out, we headed back towards Catania airport via Menfi, with Planeta being our last vineyard and lunch trip on the tour. Visiting the Ulmo estate, we were hosted by Chiara Planeta, one of the family. We tasted a vast range of wines from their various estates in Sicily – including the Chardonnay 2020 and Cometa 2020 from Menfi, Santa Cecilia 2018 from Noto, Eruzione 1614 Carricante 2018 from Etna and Mamertino 2017 from Capo Milazzo. All of the wines were excellent, accompanied by delightful food pairings throughout the lunch, with the Planeta Chardonnay being a particular favourite of the tourists.

As we returned to the airport to navigate a rather frustrating few hours battling covid restrictions, we made it back to the UK in one piece.

A treat to be back on tour, and we look forward to the 2022 tours to Galicia, Spain in May, then Tuscany, Italy in September.

p.s. well done to Sophie for organising a very successful first Tour du Vin!

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