Sicilia en Primeur 2016 a hundred and one souls
In search of not one, but a hundred Sicilies, where the different microclimates range from the hot, ventilated terraced vineyards in Pantelleria, to the often snow-covered slopes of Etna. The occasion is Sicilia en Primeur 2016, the international event open to the press and dedicated to the wines of the island, held from 19th to 23rd April. The event, which is organised by Assovini Sicilia, opened with the wine tours: 8 different itineraries through the winemaking variety of the region, with 110 journalists from all over the world visiting every corner of this island. The last stop was the Verdura Resort in Sciacca (Agrigento), where the thirteenth edition of Sicilia en Primeur was hosted. Here, the press had the chance to taste previews of the new vintages of the various designations and wines from the latest vintage: the five-star 2015 harvest. There were 52 wineries taking part, with over 800 wines from 30 different varieties, 17 of them native ones.
Assovini, the importance of the union
Sicily is seeing a period of strong growth in tourism and the focus on the agri-food market is increasing. During the press conference at the opening of Sicilia en Primeur, Marino Breganze, president of Banca Nuova (the event partner since the first edition), Antonio Rallo, president of the DOC Sicilia Consortium, Francesco Ferreri and Mariangela Cambria, president and vice president of Assovini Sicilia respectively, underlined the importance of being united in their diversity. Wine has a fundamental role in this union. Today, Assovini brings together 79 of the main regional wineries, which generate 87% of the value of bottled Sicilian wine: “Sicily is a large winemaking continent, where everyone can carve himself a space to satisfy every kind of consumer, in Italy and abroad. Assovini Sicilia has managed to communicate this unity within its diversity,” Mariangela Cambria pointed out.
The numbers of Sicilian wine and the attention to sustainability
With 100 thousand hectares of vineyards, Sicily is still Italy’s largest vineyard today. Between 4 and 5 million hectolitres of wine are currently produced each year, with lower and lower yields, mainly in the interests of quality. 68% of the vineyards are dominated by native varieties and they are on the rise, as are the Designations of Origin. In Sicily there are currently 23 DOCs and 1 DOCG (Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG), which is increasing in importance each year. In particular, the DOC Sicilia reported a growth of 23% in 2015, with a total of 24 million bottles, and this success is also due to people like Diego Planeta and Lucio Tasca, who immediately believed in this project which means “we can use the name Sicily to identify our wines today. In fact the DOC Sicilia was set up with the aim to create a strong collective brand and to protect the image and quality of Sicilian wine,” maintains Antonio Rallo. Also the IGTs grew by 6% in 2015. The perfect climate also favours organic production, which makes up 60%, while 91% uses sustainable agricultural systems.
One vintage, different harvests: 2015
During the press conference on Friday 22nd April, Rosario Di Lorenzo, professor at the University of Palermo, explained the link between the climate of the 2015 vintage and the harvest in Sicily, although it would be more accurate to talk about ‘harvests’: “ Sicily is in fact so varied that you cannot generalise the vintage in a single type of harvest, thanks to the wide range of varieties that creates a unique diversity of growing environments,” maintains Di Lorenzo. Despite technology, the starting point for innovation in the vineyard and cellar today is still the ancient knowledge of the vinegrowers.
An incredibly diversified territory
All 33 of the soil types that exist in the world can be found in Sicily, the Mediterranean climate does the lion’s share, while the lack of water in the vineyard can become an important resource if managed properly. In 2015, excellent thermal values were recorded between June and August, it wasn’t too hot and the plants did not suffer stress, “climate change doesn’t scare us,” concluded the professor. At the tasting tables, the journalists had the chance to try the latest vintage, the 2015, especially the whites and rosés, and some older vintages, including the 2014: it was a very difficult vintage all over Italy, except for Sicily, where many wines gave high-quality results. Click here to read the tasting notes of our best tastes of the previews of these and other vintages.
WineInSicily, a new online magazine
On occasion of the presentation of Sicilia en Primeur, the president of Assovini Francesco Ferreri presented the new online magazine headed by Francesco Pensovecchio: WineInSicily. “There must be a leitmotiv that unites the associative drive of Assovini Sicilia. Sustainable, simple and international: the voice of Sicilian wine in the world,” stated Ferreri. The magazine, also translated into English, must be the first vehicle for promoting a new way of visiting the Sicilian land and sea, enclosed in the concept of ‘experiential tourism’. This is also confirmed by the regional councillor for tourism Anthony Emanuele Barbagallo, who, during the conference, pointed out how 70% of tourism in Sicily is driven by food and wine. Now the gamble of the region will be to integrate this heritage with the cultural and naturalistic one. And this is the direction that WineInSicily is going in.