Catarratto Wine Guide
Catarratto is one of the main Sicilian white grape varieties, cultivated in every corner of the island, thanks to its vigor and high yields. This intensive farming has changed a great grape that used to make wines that were elegant and easy to drink. Now, though, we have a ridiculous amount of wine.
Thank goodness, a lot of small producers have found good clones to make small masterpieces: white wines with a lot of depth, flavor, and elegance. Many clones of the Catarratto are known, so much so that now we speak about it as a family of grapes, even if the most loved and cultivated is the Catarratto Bianco Lucido (Glossy White Catarratto), followed by the Catarratto Bianco Comune (Common White Catarratto).
Consider that until recently, Catarratto was used to make Marsala due to its inherent aromaticity, the richness of the aromas, and the tendency to oxidize easily, developing mature and decadent scents. Grillo then took its place because it was very strong and could oxidize well without losing its finesse.
Organoleptic characteristics of the Catarratto grape
Catarratto is a very expressive grape variety; its aromas are intense, so much so that it is considered a semi-aromatic grape variety. The aromas that distinguish it are remarkable when the wine is well made: tropical fruit, peat and cereals, honey, almonds, candied fruit, flowers, and a light spicy note that cuts through all the wine.
Finding the right balance between polyphenolic maturation, contact with the skins, and freshness is not easy, and, as for Viognier, it is really difficult to find wines made with precision.
What does Catarratto taste like?
In the mouth, it is fresh, velvety, with a sapid momentum and persistence. Don’t think about a light wine, quite the opposite: structure, ripe fruit strong like a storm, and lots of yellow flesh to bite. The body is substantial, and the finish is smoked, with notes of malt and pine resin.
Everything is taken to the extreme when it comes down to Catarratto wine, so much so that its density and tannins are renowned. Before, many Sicilian wineries were known for making very strong, thick wines that tasted like marzipan.
Today, there is a trend toward making more dynamic versions of Catarratto, which is helping it rise from the ashes and try to become (again) the star of Sicilian white wines.
The production area of Catarratto
We are talking about a historical grape grown in every corner of Sicily, even if its elective area is certainly the Trapani area, where it has been cultivated for centuries and has long been the protagonist of a great wine like Marsala.
History of the Catarratto
As said, in Trapani, it has been cultivated for centuries; it is an integral part of the wine scene of eastern Sicily. However, the first mention of the name Catarratto dates back to 1969, by the hand of Cupani, although it is supposed to be much older.
Serving temperature of Catarratto wine
The simpler and most drinkable wines should be enhanced with a classic, sapid white temperature, around 10 degrees. But the more opulent ones, which have undergone a longer maceration, can also be served at 12-14 degrees to magnify the intense aromas of this noble wine.
If you want to taste a well-made Catarratto, we recommend trying Barraco, a small winery with a tailored style that manages to produce beautiful wines, in a clean and commendable way. Another exemplary bottle that will make you understand the potential of this incredible grape is the Catartico 2015 Longarico.