It is unbearably hot and muggy, air as thick and close as a strangler’s hug. Ideas don’t come so easily in this weather. They seem to slow down and fizzle without consequence as if the subconscious is too lazy to fill in the blanks. I need inspiration.
And it comes in the form of this curious grape—Insolia from Sicily. The few I’ve tasted have been unimpressive. But this one is so mouthwatering and fresh it rescued a faltering imagination.
Like most Italian whites it is reserved; aromas don’t leap out of the glass. But there is plenty of complexity if you seek it out. Citrus, mango, and wet stones predominate with flowers and pine hovering in the background. The palate is very dry, with a plump medium body and satisfying lemony finish. Think a shy Viognier with acid.
But what it lacks in big flavors it makes up for with brio. It is one of those wines that makes your mouth feel like New Orleans jazz—alive, spunky, always moving.
Insolia is one of the grapes used in Sicily’s most famous product—the fortified wine, Marsala. But now increasingly it is vinified as a stand-alone varietal. Sicily has an odd wine history. It has endless sunshine and good, volcanic soil. But for years it was known as a bulk wine producer supplying inferior wine at rock bottom prices or a source of sweet, fortified wine. Now it Sicilians are beginning to take themselves seriously as a wine region, and it shows in the quality of the juice they produce.
If you are looking for quality to price ratio, look to Sicily.
Price: $14Follow @DwightFurrow