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I have a confession to make. I am writing this sober, so I apologise in advance if this post is more coherent than usual.

My third day in Sicily was my first without any major travelling and my first real opportunity to get in amongst the vines of Etna.

With a 10am appointment scheduled at the vineyard of Passopisciaro, I had to set out early. The journey was a good 5 kilometres as the crow flies and unfortunately I’m not a crow.

Crows rarely have to negotiate rough terrain rising over 200 metres, searching for paths that seemingly only exist on the map, or find themselves crawling on their wings and knees through bramble and barbed wire to reach the closest resemblance of a road Etna has to offer.

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First can I please offer in the way of a guarantee after yesterday’s ramblings the following: There will be, at some point during this post, a wine review of sorts.

The day started a little blurry – probably due to the previous night’s gallon of mystery wine or perhaps because the bed was just a little too hard? No, I can sleep anywhere, it was the wine.

Up and packed I headed back onto the streets of Catania eager to start my journey to the north of Mount Etna – Wine country.

Arriving at Catania central station I thought I had everything under control.

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New World Chardonnay never used to be the most appealing of wine to me. Too often I found it over-oaked, blandly buttery and lacking any real individual character.

This is, of course, nonsense.

The truth of the matter is that Chardonnay is not a grape that takes to skimping on quality lightly. If you really want to experience what this wonderful grape is truly capable of, you must be willing to part with a little more cash than you might be used to for a New World wine.

Catena Alta Chardonnay – from Argentinian maestro Nicolás Catena – is a prime example of what can be accomplished with South American Chardonnay.

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A co-operative of thirty farms, Cantine Leonardo da Vinci was established in 1961 – at the time only selling wine by the barrel. In 1971 they launched two bottles: the white, Collebello, has since been confined to the annuls of history, however the red, Leonardo Chianti, is still going strong.

Though the stated blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 5% “other red grapes” may be a tad non-specific – don’t be deterred by the poor choice of wording on the label.

Initially, rich and silky red in the glass – light reveals a clear, intensely bright colour. On the nose, plenty of fresh dark cherries, mixed with spice and a touch of pepper.

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Just for a moment, let’s pretend that the summer sun is more than just a mere memory. Here’s an extraordinarily fruity Sicilian red that makes for excellent summer drinking – Planeta, Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

The first and only D.O.C.G. in Sicily – Cerasuolo di Vittoria has somewhat of a reputation for standing out from the crowd. With it’s uniquely vibrant colour, perfume and taste.

A classic blend of native Sicilian grapes – Nero d’Avola and Frappato – Cerasuolo di Vittoria positively screams ripe fruit at you from the glass. Waves of glorious cherries fill your nose and continue across your tongue, complimented by Read the rest of this entry »