Italian Editor

Sicilian Wines

Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia both experience an arid, Mediterranean climate. High-altitude vineyards located on both islands are the preferred viticultural sites due to their large diurnal swings, which allow for acid retention and increased freshness. For many years, Sicily's reputation was built on the fortified wine Marsala. But recently, Sicily has gained recognition for its quality table wines. The region’s red wines are quite successful, with notable elegance, sweet tannins and impressive balance. Sicily’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, is a blend based on the island’s most planted grape, Nero d’Avola, and the grapey Frappato. A strong Spanish influence is evident in Sardinia’s wines — Cannonau (Grenache) and Carignano (Carignan) both have Spanish roots. The white Vermentino, which is also thought to be of Spanish origin, is the main variety in the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG, creating seafood-friendly wines with orchard and citrus fruit aromas and an underlying richness. For more information on the wines from these Italian islands be sure to check out our Sicily and Sardinia Wine Reviews.

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95
points

Donnafugata 2010 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  • Editors' Choice
  1. $40
Ben Ryé is one of the 10 best dessert wines made in Italy. From the sun-drenched island of Pantelleria, this is made using Zibibbo grapes that are air-dried. It’s thickly extracted and syrupy sweet, with intense aromas of apricot, honey and marzipan. The kick of fresh acidity at the end is nothing short of brilliant.  — M.L.  (12/1/2012)
95
points

Donnafugata 2009 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  • Editors' Choice
  • Online Exclusive
  1. $40
Ben Ryé can claim to be both a cult wine and a commercial wine, and that’s a very difficult goal to achieve. Sweet, syrupy and crisp at the same time, this Sicilian dessert wine opens with a luminous amber color and intense aromas of prune, dried apricot, honey, caramel and custard cream. It’s seriously delicious.  — M.L.  (12/31/2011)
95
points

Donnafugata 2008 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  1. $40
Ben Ryé is always a fabulous dessert wine from Pantelleria (an island off the coast of Sicily) and this expression shows beautiful liveliness and personality. You’ll get aromas of stone fruit, apricot, honey, almond paste and even a spicy touch of fresh ginger. It feels smooth, rich and totally decadent.  — M.L.  (12/31/2010)
95
points

Tenuta delle Terre Nere 2007 Guardiola Red (Etna)

  • Cellar Selection
  • Online Exclusive
  1. $46
From what may be the most beautiful vineyard on the planet with gnarled and knotted limbs of head-trained vines that emerge from blackened volcanic soils, Guardiola is an extraordinary wine. It is elegant inside and out with penetrating aromas of licorice, violets, coal, mesquite, black currants and cassis. The tannins are polished but firm and the wine promises a…  — M.L.  (12/1/2009)
95
points

Donnafugata 2006 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  • Editors' Choice
  1. $40
The folks at Donnafugata, one of Sicily’s most dynamic wineries, have inaugurated a new winery on the volcanic island of Pantelleria fully dedicated to the production of their precious Ben Ryé passito. The amber-colored wine is vibrant, brilliant and its purity of aromas is outstanding. Dried figs, apricot, honey, almond and fragrant herbs are delivered in thick…  — M.L.  (2/1/2008)
95
points

Donnafugata 2005 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  1. $40
Thick, opulent and sophisticated, this amber-colored dessert wine made from sun-dried Zibibbo grapes is probably the best single export from Pantelleria, a volcanic island between Sicily and Africa. Delicate aromas of almond, apricot jam, honey, raisin and maple syrup are vibrant and absolutely irresistible. It’s impossible not to love this wine.  — M.L.  (2/1/2008)
95
points

Donnafugata 2004 Ben Ryé Zibibbo (Passito di Pantelleria)

  • Editors' Choice
  1. $38
Sicilians are notorious for an insatiable sweet tooth and a talent for making dessert wines: Hands down, the best of the best is Ben Ryé. The aromatic layers are infinite: maple syrup, orange zest, almond paste, dried banana and crème caramel. This amber-colored dessert wine is dessert on its own. Imported by William Grant & Sons, Inc.  — M.L.  (7/1/2006)
94
points

Girolamo Russo 2008 San Lorenzo Nerello Mascalese (Etna)

  • Cellar Selection
  1. $55
One of the ultimate expressions of Etna, San Lorenzo is an elegant, determined and sophisticated wine with a steady stream of delicate aromas—wild berry, crushed granite, smoke and cola—that build in momentum and evolve beautifully over time. The mouthfeel is firm and structured, with polished tannins and a bright berry endnote.  — M.L.  (4/1/2012)
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