Saturday, April 08, 2006

Greetings from Vinitaly, and a Very Fine Wine

I've spent much of the past two days tasting Marsala, Sicily's great and vastly underrated fortified white wine. There are a number of grades of Marsala, and though the lower ones are often considered (correctly or not) cooking wines, the good stuff, Superiore and Vergine, attracts devotees who will go to extraordinary lengths to enjoy it: During the Prohibition, for example, Marsala lovers managed to convince the US Government that it had medicinal qualities, and thus its sale continued undisturbed.

These devotees would have much enjoyed Cantine Pellegrino's Marsala Vergine Riserva del Centenario 1980, which is tawny amber with apricot reflections, and has a rich bouquet with marzipan and almonds laced with caramel, peppery spice and haunting bitter walnuts. The palate is just as nice, with powerful nutmeats laced with powdered orange peel and hints of brown sugar and supported by considerable savory warmth that continues at great length.

This is a wine you can have a conversation with, and if you like drier fortified wines of this kind by all means seek it out.

Got some Marsala Fine (what they cook with) kicking around? Some ideas:

Cantine Pellegrino's Site | The Consorzio del Marsala Site

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