While trying to write an Italian indigenous grape dictionary for Altacucina Society’s website, I keep reading about grapes that I have never heard of from all corners of Italy. I am still on the first letter of the Alphabet and am amazed at the wealth of varieties.
Albanello bianco from Sicily, for example, is one that I just discovered from the provinces of Siracusa, Ragusa, Caltinisetta and Etna in Sicily. The variety used to grow in Le Marche but can no longer be found there.
This white grape variety, normally used as a blending grape, apparently aids in the production of both dry and sweet wines which can age. It is mentioned in references to Eloro Bianco, a wine from the province of Siracusa as well as Ambrato di Comiso, a liquoroso wine from the province of Ragusa.
I only found one winery which produces wines imported into the US which use Albanello as part of a blend. The winery, Gulfi, is located in the Iblei Mountains in the province of Ragusa. I found the wines on wine-searcher at Astor Wines and PJ Wines.
Ragusa is the smallest Sicilian province and is known in the wine world for its Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a red wine with a very light (rose’) color made from a blend of Nero d’Avola, Frappato and 10% other indigenous red varieties which attained the coveted Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status with its 2005 vintage. It is the only DOCG wine in Sicily.
The Iblean Mountains lie on the South-Eastern side of Sicily and are known for their limestone soil.
A dear friend from Italy is from Ragusa and she has often invited me to visit. I have not yet taken her up on the offer but as I look through websites, I am becoming increasing curious about this corner of Sicily that I do not know well.
I also read about two varieties which are impossible to pronounce Albaranzeuli Bianco (also called Albillo and Albicello) and Albaranzeuli Nero from Sardinia. The names conjures up a Spanish past with moorish Arab influence. While their provenance is uncertain, it is thought that they come from the Iberian peninsula.
Sardinia if you recall was under Spanish rule for more than 400 years. Both grapes are found in the province of Nuoro and the white variety in the province of Oristano.