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Exploring Noto's Sicilian Wine Wonderland

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, is a treasure trove of diverse landscapes, rich culture, and of course, exceptional wines.

Noto stands out among its many wine regions for its historical significance, picturesque landscapes, and unique grape varieties.

Map of Southeast Sicily.

In this blog post, we will delve into the enchanting world of Noto, exploring its different wine regions, the wines produced there, and the fascinating grapes that give them their distinctive character.

Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Notto is a province with a long winemaking heritage that dates back thousands of years. This area benefits from a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters, creating an ideal environment for grape cultivation.

The volcanic soil around Mount Etna provides excellent vineyard growth conditions. Noto is renowned for its volcanic wines, reflecting the unique terroir that shapes its taste and quality.

Noto is divided into sub-regions, each with microclimates and grape-growing traditions. Among the notable wine regions are:

  • Vittoria - Located in the southeastern part of Noto, Vittoria is famous for its Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG wines. This appellation produces red wines primarily from the Nero d'Avola grape variety, often blended with Frappato. The wines are known for their fruit-forward character and smooth tannins. The Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG wines are some of the most famous and distinct wines in Noto, Cerasuolo di Vittoria is an elegant red blend of Nero d'Avola (30-50%) and Frappato 50-70%). As of today, it is the only DOCG wine in Sicily and it offers a harmonious balance of red berry and cherry aromas, with a distinct deep red, cherry-like hue that gives it its name. The Frappato content is responsible for the black cherry and strawberry notes, low tannin and light body due to the thin skin and sugar levels in the grape.

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria. DOCG

  • Pachino - Found in the southernmost tip of Sicily, Pachino is renowned for its Nero d'Avola wines. The region's sandy soils impart a unique mineral quality to the wines, adding depth and complexity to the Nero d'Avola grapes. Pachino’s Eloro Pachino red wine is made from Nero d’Avola grape (90-100%), with Frappato and/or Pignatello (0-10%). It gives a deep red-ruby coloured wine, which takes on a red brik colour as it makes contact with oxygen and over time. The aromas are intense of sweet black cherry and bitter orange and on the palate, a full body, high tannin, and a surprisingly soft finish of bergamot, cherry and floral notes.

Eloro Pachino Nero D'Avola. Courtesy of Vivino

While Vittoria and Pachino take the spotlight in Noto, emerging wine regions also deserve attention. These areas are recognised for their unique contributions to the Sicilian wine landscape.

  • Siracusa - Situated on the southeastern coast of Sicily, Siracusa is an up-and-coming wine region. Here, you'll find a mix of indigenous and international grape varieties. The wines from Siracusa are marked by their elegant structure and a delightful balance of fruit and acidity.

  • Avola - Known for its Nero d'Avola wines, Avola showcases the versatility of this prominent Sicilian grape. Wines from Avola often exhibit a robust character with deep red fruit flavours and hints of spice.

Noto's viticultural landscape is a tapestry of diverse grape varieties that thrive in the region's distinct terroir. Some of the grapes we discussed are:

  • Nero d'Avola - Known as the "Black of Avola” or Calabrese this native, iconic Sicilian grape is the backbone of many wines in Noto. It adapts well to volcanic soils and expresses a wide range of flavours depending on the microclimate. It produces rich and full-bodied red wines. Dark fruit flavours, velvety tannins, and hints of spice and herbs characterise Nero d'Avola wines.

Nero D'Avola grape. Mandrarossa

  • Frappato - Often blended with Nero d'Avola, Frappato brings its floral and red fruit aromas to the wines. It softens the tannins and adds a refreshing brightness to the blends.

Frapatto grape. Cellar Tours

Winemaking in Noto is deeply rooted in tradition, with many families passing down their expertise from generation to generation. The region's winemakers prioritise sustainable and organic practices to preserve the landscape's natural beauty.

Harvest time in Noto is a vibrant and joyous occasion, as the vineyards come alive with activity. Local festivals celebrate the grape harvest, offering a glimpse into the cultural significance of winemaking in the region.

In Italy’s wine-making tradition, wines are made to complement food beautifully and to appreciate Noto's wines truly, one must indulge in the local cuisine that complements them perfectly. Sicilian dishes are a delightful blend of Mediterranean flavours, and they beautifully enhance the characteristics of the region's wines.

  • Arancini - These delectable fried rice balls stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables are a beloved Sicilian snack. Pair them with a Nero d'Avola for a delightful contrast of flavours.

Arancini. Wikipedia

  • Sicilian Pasta - From Pasta alla Norma to Pasta con le Sarde, Sicily boasts a variety of pasta dishes. The wines from Notto, especially Cerasuolo di Vittoria, harmonise wonderfully with the rich tomato-based sauces and fresh seafood.

Noto's wineries offer visitors a warm embrace, inviting them to immerse themselves in the winemaking process and enjoy breathtaking vineyard landscapes. Many wineries offer guided tours, wine tastings, and even accommodation in charming agriturismo.

From exploring ancient cellars to witnessing the careful crafting of wines, wine tourism in Notto promises a truly unforgettable experience!

As Noto continues to make its mark on the global wine scene, the future looks promising for this must-visit Sicilian region. Sustainable practices, innovative winemaking techniques, and a commitment to preserving its wine-making heritage will undoubtedly contribute to the ongoing success of Notto's wines.


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