Ancient grape emerges from obscurity in Sicily

An ancient grape from the Roman viticultural area of Marmertinum is forecast to be a key player in the future of Sicilian winemaking.

Planeta’s vineyards on Capo Milazzo, a peninsula in northeastern Sicily, where the producer has planted the ancient grape Nocera

Called Nocera, the variety is believed to have been the main grape of Roman ‘great estate’ Marmertinum in Sicily, as identified by Pliny the Elder in the second century BC.

The grape, which produces wines with deep colour, high levels of acidity and strong tannins, is being replanted by Sicilian producer Planeta, although others are also putting it in the ground, according to the producer.

Speaking to the drinks business during Vinitaly this year, Planeta winemaker Patricia Tóth expressed her great belief in the grape.

“I think that Nocera will be a very important variety for the future of Sicily,” she said, adding, “It has colour, structure, spices, and a citrus note, as well as a saltiness.”

While she told db that two Sicilian regions were officially allowed to use the grape in their wines – Faro and Mamertino di Milazzo ­– it was almost entirely found as a minor component in a blend, with other native varieties Nerello Mascalese/Cappuccio or Nero d’Avola taking the dominant proportion.

However, Planeta has, starting with the 2015 vintage, produced a pure Nocera to highlight the character and quality of this forgotten grape, although it has been making wine using Nocera since 2013, blending it with Nero d’Avola – the other authorised variety of Mamertino di Milazzo DOC.

“Very few people are making Nocera as a single varietal wine, but it is a really exciting grape,” she said.

Continuing, she recorded, “Some are now planting it for use in Sicilia DOC, and some in Marsala, but there are still only 30 hectares of Nocera in total.

Having told db that Nocera’s native source is the region of Messina in Sicily, home to the modern-day Mamertino di Milazzo DOC, she said that the grape was introduced to the Italian mainland in the C16th, and can still be found in Calabria.

She also expressed enthusiasm for the rebirth of the ancient viticultural region of Marmertinum, recording that there are 11 producers now making Mamertino di Milazzo DOC, which has been enough for the region to form its own consorzio to promote the area, following the creation of the DOC in 2004.

So, could the tough grape of Nocera, which retains its natural acidity – even in the hot climes of Sicily and Cantabria – become a flagship grape of the future?

Read more

THE FLAGSHIP WINE GRAPES OF THE FUTURE

One Response to “Ancient grape emerges from obscurity in Sicily”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Fine Wine Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Account Manager - London Trade Sales

Bancroft Wines Ltd
London, UK

Brand Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London UK

Marketing Assistant

Speciality Brands
Park Royal, London, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives
Maldives

Financial Controller

London City Bond
Barking, UK

Duty Manager

The Whisky Exchange
Great Portland Street, London

Spirits Advisor

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

International Sales Manager

Elixir Distillers
Park Royal, London, UK

Millésime Bio 2020

Montpellier,France
27th Jan 2020

Maisons Marques et Domaines Annual Tasting

London,United Kingdom
29th Jan 2020

Austrian Wine Tasting

London,United Kingdom
3rd Feb 2020
Click to view more