Sicily is one of the world’s most exciting wine regions, producing internationally renowned reds and whites in a variety of styles. Given the island’s rich winemaking traditions, its blessed climate, varying altitudes and range of soils, it’s fair to assume Sicily came by this title easily. Not so.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, the Mediterranean island churned out high volumes of cheap, bland wine and concentrated must that was exported to mainland Europe. Luckily in the ‘80s, a new generation of winemakers took the reins under the auspices of Sicilia DOC and started experimenting with international varieties geared toward lower yields and higher quality. From there, Sicilian winemakers applied their know-how to idigenous grapes like Nero d’Avola—varieties that played a key role in driving the island’s wine renaissance.
Much like Sicily itself, the native white Catarratto grape once suffered from a bit of an image crisis. The most planted grape on the island, accounting for around 60 percent of its total vineyard area, the high-yield Catarratto has long been perceived as a lesser-quality blending component in Sicily’s Marsala wines. But as producers have started producing fresher and more versatile styles, the world is starting to take the native variety seriously. Now, the grape is even getting a new name: Lucido, after one of the grape’s three clones (the other two are Commune and Extra Lucido).
No matter which name you prefer—the melodic Catarratto or the easy-to-pronounce Lucido—it’s impossible to deny the allure of the vigorous grape, which is full in body and boasts subtle mineral acidity. In the right hands, the results are extraordinary.
Sicily’s award-winning Donnafugata winery, for example, stars Lucido in its Anthilia 2020, a refreshing straw-colored wine with notes of white-fleshed fruits and wildflowers. While Alessandro Viola’s 2019 Lucido is lively and smooth, with aromas of pineapple, peaches, and lemon.
Some producers are even taking it one step further by experimenting with extended maceration (see: Medea by Alcesti, Benede’ by Alessandro di Camporeale, Terre di Gratia, and Luna Sicana) and sparkling methods (check out Alcesti Pas Dose and Spumante).
As Sicilian winemakers increasingly turn to the variety, it’s only a matter of time before Lucido becomes a staple on more restaurant wine lists around the world. After all, this is a highly quaffable wine that pairs beautifully with a variety of different plates—grilled eggplant, spaghetti alle vongole, salt baked fish.
If there’s anything to be taken away from Lucido’s rise (and the popularity of other native varieties like Grillo), it’s that Sicily’s indigenous grapes are only just beginning to have their moment in the sun. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to see what’s next for this dynamic region.