Italy’s Catarratto Bianco In My Glass

 

On May 23, 1992 – 28 years ago – Anti-Mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone was murdered together with his wife Francesca Morvillo and three of his bodyguards. It was a day I will never forget. My boyfriend and I lived in a cute apartment in Florence near the Boboli gardens.

I had moved to Florence the summer before. My Italian wasn’t great at that point and I learned it partly through reading the newspaper, specifically stories about the Mafia and the heroic judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who fought to put the bosses and their cohorts in jail. I was and remain fascinated by Italian politics and the struggles that went on.

The day Falcone was murdered I remember feeling ill and shocked. They blew up a entire part of the highway in what came to be known as the “Strage di Capaci” or the rampage at Capaci.

I can’t believe so much time has gone by. Those responsible for these murders have been arrested. I am happy to see that a very important priest Don Ciotti and an organization he works with has been able to confiscate much property from the Mafia. It is part of an association called “Libera” or free.

I had first noticed these products when shopping in a store in Milan that I love called “Altromercato.” They sell a host of things using rules of fair trade.

It’s one of my favorite stores and an obligatory stop on all my Italian trips. A number of my friends have gotten wedding gifts there and the proceeds always go to things I believe in. I often buy products there too and found this wine called Centopassi.

I am up to speaking about Catarratto in my daily Instagram chats about Italian indigenous varieties and this is the one I was speaking about today.

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Centopassi was the name of a movie I saw many years ago about the life of a young political activist and radio host called Peppino Impastato. Peppino was murdered by a Mafia boss.

Apparently, centopassi or 100 steps was the number of steps between Peppino’s home and that of the boss that killed him. It is a reference to how difficult it is to fight your neighbors and how entrenched the Mafia is in Italy.

The wines made from lands confiscated from the Mafia are called the Centopassi line. They are dedicated to victims of the Mafia, among them Pio La Torre, Peppino Impastato, and Placido Rizzoto.

Falcone and Borsellino’s murders will forever remain ingrained in my mind. Paolo Borsellino was murdered in front of his mother’s home on July 19, 1992.

I know this is a wine blog and not a political one but politics are a huge part of life and a big interest of mine, Italian politics specifically.The Catarratto from Centopassi that I tried was a nice wine as an aperitivo or with a light first course. I especially enjoyed giving money to a good cause and drinking to the memory of these special people. Cataratto has citrus, grapefruit notes but also herbal characteristics when done well. It is Italy’s second most widely planted grape after Trebbiano Toscano

Catarratto bianco is a widely planted grape on the island of Sicily. There are two very common types of Catarratto grown: bianco comune e bianco lucido. According to experts, the latter produces more elegant wines than the former. Catarratto is a high yielding grape which does well on this Mediterranean island, especially in the province of Trapani. Catarratto is also one of the main grapes in Marsala, together with other white varieties – Inzolia (Insolia) and Grillo. It is also the main grape used to make Vermouth.

The Catarratto from Centopassi that I tried was a nice wine as an aperitivo or with a light first course. I especially enjoyed giving money to a good cause and drinking to the memory of these special people. Cataratto has citrus, grapefruit notes but also herbal characteristics when done well. It is Italy’s second most widely planted grape after Trebbiano Toscano

In addition to the one from Centopassi, I have also tried one from  Tasca d’Almerita. The wine from the Tenuta Regaleali estate, Catarratto Antisa was full-bodied and luscious on the rose and palate. I was surprised at its freshness but then I learned that the estate is located at 400-900 above sea level and therefore the grapes do get to rest from the heat of the hot sun. The word Antisa means the wait I think in the Sicilian dialect.

I have spent a lot of time tasting the wines of Tasca through the years and am always happy to discover their take on Sicilian varieties.  I am also impressed by their commitment to preserving biodiversity and the environment.

 

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