Grecanico is one of the most intriguing grape varieties found across the continent. Often referred to by its full name - Grecanico Dorato - this humble grape has become a staple in many Sicilian white wines. However, its history is a lot more complicated than many of the other white grape varieties found in the vineyards of Sicily. While the grape itself has been around for centuries, experts are still debating where it originated.
The Mysterious Origins Of Grecanico
Currently, Grecanico Dorato is found almost exclusively in Sicily. In fact, 98% of Grecanico grapes are found in this region. Specifically, it can be found to the northwest of Mount Etna, where it is grown in the volcanic soil of Contrada Nave. Naturally, the minerals found in this soil help the grape take on a unique flavour profile, giving a rich scent to any wine produced.
Nevertheless, if you rewind time to the early 6th Century BC, you’ll have the first sightings of this grape in Sicily. Due to its name - Grecanico means “Greek” - it was believed that the grape itself originated in Greece. In the 6th Century BC, Italy and Sicily saw an influx of Greeks emigrating to their lands. There are many Greek settlements located throughout Sicily, near the area where this grape is now grown. Consequently, everyone concluded that Grecanico Dorato was originally found in Greece and brought over to Sicily.
But, in the 1980s, people started looking into the origins of Grecanico more deeply. It was found through genetic DNA analysis that this grape is identical to the Garganega grape, found in Soave. This is a small place in northern Italy, leading many to wonder if Grecanico is indeed a native Italian/Sicilian grape and doesn’t have Greek origins. Currently, there is still no conclusive evidence to say that either theory is true.
Since the ‘80s, production and interest in Grecanico wines have grown year after year. It’s seen as an exciting grape that produces some of the best wines in Sicily. When looking deeper at its properties and tasting notes, we can see why.
The Typical Characteristics Of Grecanico Dorato
Grecanico Dorato produces white whines that are golden in colour. Interestingly, this is where the second part of its name comes from, as “dorato” translates as gold in Italian. When sniffed, this wonderful white whine delivers scents that remind you of various tropical fruits. You get hints of apple, a bit of pear in there, and even some pineapple. This sweetness is then undercut by the bitterness of almonds striking through, offering a well-balanced wine that tastes warm and fresh.
The balance lends itself perfectly to a number of popular dishes in the region. Traditionally, Sicilians will pair Grecanico wines with pasta dishes including fish. The freshness of the wine perfectly balances out the richness of a white fish sauce or pasta with sardines. Other Sicilian classics also go well with it, such as arancini and a rich ragu sauce or aubergine parmigiana with polpette.
Overall, Grecanico is a popular grape grown in vineyards around Sicily, close to Mount Etna. If you want a refreshing and well-balanced white wine, this is certainly one to keep an eye on.
What wine is Grecanico similar to?
Research shows that this grape variety is closely related with many other varieties of grapes that are native to Italy. These varieties include Albana, Greco, Empibotte, Catarratto, Bianco del Polino, Marzemina Bianca, Malvasai di Candia a Sapore Semplice, Trebbiano Toscano and Montonico Bianco.