Grape Variety: Grecanico

Colour: White

Grecanico? Greco? It’s all Greek to me…

There is a whole family of southern Italian white grapes, from Campania, Puglia, Basilatica and Sicilia that share a profile of floral and nutty, quite delicate aromas, but fat, lemony and powerful fruit on the palate. Grecanico is one, named after its Greek origins, and this wine from Sicily offers a real alternative to a white wine diet of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It is a little more akin to the former, with a certain leafy pungency on the nose, but fairly restrained, with notes of almond and straw, and some of that citrus quality. On the palate it is really quite decisive, with a concentrated fruit quality that has a real tell-tale Italian bitter almond, or even Campari-like edge, to cool pear and lemon fruit.

Caruso & Minini make a 100% Grecanico from their vineyards near Marsala. Vinification is modern: grapes are chilled down and vinified in stainless steel with temperature controlled fermentation at 16-18 degrees for twenty days. The wine then remains in tank for months and then for a further two in bottle before release.  Clear with a bright straw-colour it shows rather lush, fresh-fruit aromas that blend citrus and melon and fresh white fruit with an intriguing whiff of musk. Full and round in texture it is given structure by snappy citric fruit and tingling acidity; there’s a hint of flowers and a slight drying sensation in the long finish.  The Grecanico grapes from western facing vines on loam and clay soils are harvested by hand and put in small boxes and also fermented at cool temperatures. Malcolm Gluck writes: “This is an intense Sicilian of delicious originality.  Aromatic and stunningly structured, the fruit has a faint echo, quite startling as a talking-point, of fresh toffee apple – but one crafted by Heston Blumenthal. Texture? Every so slightly crumpled satin”. This is remarkably serious wine for the price with a vinous quality. The nose is reminiscent of orange blossom, but the palate is more rounded like the flesh of a pear.

The version from Marco de Bartoli is one of the Integrale, organic wines which are vinified naturally without the addition of sulphur. This is a vinous white with a hint of apple skin and some volcanic smokiness. Round up your best baby squid, stuff it with rice, pine nuts, herbs and raisins and raise a glass of Grecanico Integrale.

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