No wine is an islandm or is it? 10 wines that will introduce you to Italy and its native varietals

Italy has more than 600 native varietals and the faithful custodians of this enormous oenological patrimony are the islands themselves.

Vinhood Editors
Vinhood Editors
ragazza che brinda con calice di bianco sul porto

Italy has more than 600 native varietals and the faithful custodians of this enormous oenological patrimony are the islands themselves.

Here, in secret and isolated bits of land protected by the sea, ancient and bizarre varietals are preserved which give life to unique and original wines.

Sapid, fresh, windy; it’s worth tasting every one of these bottles, each of which represents a world made up of oenological traditions, local varietals, and incredible habitats. 

Whether you’re physically headed towards one of these islands or hoping to teleport there with a glass of wine, these are the summer’s 10 must-taste island wines.

immagine di tenuta Capofaro a Salina

  1. CAPOFARO – SALINA

On Salina, in the Eolie archipelago, the king of the varietals is certainly the Malvasia delle Lipari. We’re big fans of the one produced at Tenuta Capofaro by Tasca d’Almerita. An #Outgoing, dry, and fresh white wine with notes of aromatic and floral herbs that recall the island’s typical Maquis shrubland; a wine that expresses the very essence of this volcanic region. That’s why Didyme was given the island of Salina’s ancient name.

Enrica e Francesco Spadafora mentre vendemmiano

  1. DEI PRINCIPI DI SPADAFORA – MONREALE, SICILY

Have you ever tried the bubbly version of Grillo?

Then you must absolutely start with the Metodo Classico sparkling wine, Enrica Spadafora, from the Dei Principi di Spadafora winery

We’re in the Virzì district in Monreale, province of Palermo, where Grillo is one of the most frequently cultivated and widespread white varietals. 

Very fresh and well-structured, this #Brilliant Metodo Classico ages for 72 months in the bottle, in contact with the yeasts from which it acquires intense notes of crusty bread and dried fruit. 

A unique and original wine that pairs perfectly with carpaccios and tartars.  

bottiglia di Nsajar di Riofavara con due lime

  1. RIOFAVARA – VAL DI NOTO, SICILY

Nsajàr is the Riofavara winery’s latest gamble, made from Recunu, Cutrera, and Rucignola grapes, varietals whose presence in Sicily dates back to the mid 1800s, but the traces of which had previously been lost. 

This wine undergoes a spontaneous fermentation process in steel, though a portion of it is actually aged in wood. A minerally wine whose #Outgoing side is most evident when it’s young, demonstrating itself to be fresh and sapid, and whose #Profound side gradually emerges as it ages in the bottle. In fact, it’s best to stock up so that you can rediscover it throughout its evolution.

  1. ARGIOLAS – SARDINIA 

Sardinia wouldn’t be the same without Cannonau and, of all its wineries, Argiolas is certainly the one which best preserves the most ancient wine making tradition, yet always in keeping with the times.

What we’re recommending for this summer is their Senes, a 100% Cannonau with a #Sensual, soft, and fruity character that reveals a seductive spicy note thanks to its time aged in wood. An elegant wine that, however, thanks to its affordability and ease of consumption, lends itself to being a true “constant” throughout this summer. 

  1. ABBAZIA SAN GIORGIO – PANTELLERIA

On Pantelleria, everything speaks of sun, wind, and… Zibibbo.

A truly enchanting combination, celebrated by the name of this #Affectionate raisin wine from Abbazia San Giorgio: Magico.

The production of Magico begins in the second half of August when the bunches, harvested after an initial selection in the vineyard, are brought to drying racks and laid out in the sun. After approximately 8 days the bunches are turned and, after another 8-10 days depending on the weather conditions, the dried grapes are gathered and brought to the cellar to be crushed.

The wine’s nose recalls dried figs, apricot jam, and acacia honey.

It’s definitely sweet, but its freshness and sapidity make it extremely easy to drink and to pair with cheeses as well.

  1. VIGNETO ALTURA – ISOLA DEL GIGLIO 

Ansonaco is the local varietal par excellence of Isola del Giglio, and the one produced by Vigneto Altura is like a concentrated liquid version of a day spent on the island.

This macerated white wine is obtained from low-vine Ansonaco grapes cultivated on steep terraces that slope straight down towards the sea.

Its nose is fresh and “windy” and carries the scent of bitter oranges, Mediterranean herbs, and smoke. Meanwhile, its flavor is pulpy, salty, and rustic. A truly #Eccentric character. 

vermentino sardo Audarya

  1. AUDARYA – SARDINIA

Are you thirsty for white?

Then try theAudarya winery’s #Outgoing Vermentino. We’re in Sardinia, in the area around Serdiana, in the province of Cagliari.

Here the terrain is rich in calcium and clay, which help to produce fine, sapid wines with a nice alcohol content. The grapes are tree-cultivated with a density of 5,000 plants per hectare: the proper ratio to obtain grapes that are concentrated and rich in sugar and aromas. 

The nose is fruity and citrusy, with a surprising mineral quality. 

  1. CASA D’AMBRA – ISCHIA

Casa D’Ambra is one of the oldest wineries on the Island of Ischia

For four generations the winery has maintained a wine making tradition that we can, for all intents and purposes, define as heroic, given the modest spaces, the steep slope of the vineyards, and the almost exclusive cultivation of local varietals. The winery’s flagship wine is definitely the Frassitelli, pure Biancolella produced 500 meters above sea level. For red wine connoisseurs there’s the Per e palummo (the local name for Piedirosso), fresh and elegant with a #Magnetic character. 

  1. TENUTA DELLE RIPALTE – ELBA

Aleatico is undoubtedly the varietal of the Island of Elba. But it’s not just raisin wine that’s produced (though we highly recommend it!).

At Tenuta delle Ripalte, 15 hectares perched on a promontory at the south-eastern tip of the island, just behind a dramatic cliff, Aleatico grapes are also used to produce an excellent rosé and an extremely original Brut rosé.

This is a Metodo Charmat with a #Witty character, to which a small does of Aleatico Passito is added during bottling. 

  1. TENUTA TASCANTE – ETNA, SICILY

The history of Tasca and of the “Muntagna” crossed paths in 2007 with the birth of the project Tascante – Tasca ed Etna – which also wishes to reflect the winery’s basic philosophy: the perfect synthesis of these two worlds, in full respect of the region.

We recommend Tascante, an Etna DOC red wine made with Nerello Mascalese. A #Magnetic, elegant, and refined wine with a floral and berry-like scent.