2017 Cantine Pellegrino Passito Di Pantelleria
2017 Cantine Pellegrino Passito Di Pantelleria Amber golden yellow. Fresh, sweet nose of apricots, candied fruit and dried raisins. On the palate fine honey taste, notes of dried fruit and braised pear. Long and with a fine acid wire that never makes this famous desert wine from the island of Pantelleria appear sticky or broad.
Passito di Pantelleria Wine
Passito di Pantelleria is a distinct style of sweet white wine made from Muscat of Alexandria grown on the Italian island (and DOC) of Pantelleria in the Mediterranean Sea. For more information on the DOC and the island, which lies in the Strait of Sicily between the coasts of Sicily and Tunisia, see the Moscato di Pantelleria entry.
“Passito” refers to the technique of drying, or raisining, berries on or off the vine. Pantelleria’s exceptionally hot, and generally dry, climate certainly favor this technique, which effectively concentrates sugars in the berries through dessication, a style further aided by the island’s sometimes strong winds that blow from the North African coast.
Such are the demands and traditions of viticulture on the volcanic island (where vines are generally bush-trained in “albarello”, or “little trees”) that the traditional cultivation of vines was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 2014.
In winemaking terms, the Passito title basically covers the white, sweet “Passito” wines and the fortified “Passito Liquoroso”, both made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape, known here (and in Sicily) as Zibibbio. In wine circles the grape is often derided as musky and less refined in comparison to its equally widely-planted relative, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.
Wines made from dried grapes have existed for thousands of years. It is most likely that the tradition came about as a solution to wine conservation challenges: the higher sugar and alcohol content of the resulting wines made the chances of spoilage much lower.
The practice is still in force in the modern wine world, most notably in Italy (Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella for example) and France (Vin de Paille from Jura and Hermitage) but also in Cyprus (the famous Commandaria from the island’s foothills) and Greece.