Today's Sponsors:
"Am I a Great Vintage?" Find out here:

 California Wine Club
Eighteen Medals from 18 Different Competitions!

In This Issue
 Obscure grapes and wines: Grillo An intriguing white grape from Sicily.
 Feudo Arancio 2002 Grillo Sicilia ($11.99) Full-bodied and savory, an impressive, little-known variety.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

Obscure grapes and wines: Grillo

In another of our periodic excursions into the odd and obscure, let's examine today a classic Sicilian grape that's been around for thousands of years and that most of us have never heard of: Grillo ("Greel-loe"), a variety so ancient that it was used in one of Julius Caesar's favorite wines, the sweet, luscious Mamertino of Messina.

In more recent centuries, Grillo toiled anonymously as the primary grape of Marsala, the strongly fortified, Sherry-like sweet wine of Western Sicily, which is better known to most of the world in the kitchen (as the base for dishes as varied as chicken Marsala and Zabaglione) than on the dining table.

In the postwar years, when the Sicilian wine industry sought to upgrade its image by modernizing what might politely be called a "traditional" status, Grillo enjoyed a brief resurgence and was planted widely, although in more recent decades, much of it has been ripped out in favor of more familiar varieties, with plantings falling to a relatively nominal 5,000 acres in the 1990s, according to Jancis Robinson.

Much of that output still goes into Marsala, and more of it goes into bland, neutral white wines. But now and again, a Grillo-based white dramatically exceeds expectations, demonstrating that there's real quality in this variety for the producer willing to make the effort to bring it out. Today's wine from Feudo Arancio is a fine example, a worthy alternative to Chardonnay for those in search of a full-bodied, aromatic white.

You'll find a round-table online discussion about this article in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Feudo Arancio Feudo Arancio 2002 Grillo Sicilia ($11.99)

Golden in color, transparent but bright. Attractive and forward aromas, citric lemon-lime with a gentle whiff of wildflowers, are accented with grace notes of honey and almond. Full-bodied and ripe, flavors are consistent with the nose, crisp and pleasantly acidic. A touch of subtle minerality joins snappy citrus and delicate almond in a long finish. Very interesting wine. U.S. importer: Prestige Wine Imports Corp., NYC. (July 13, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Good with just about any seafood or fish, it made an outstanding match with a light seafood sausage made from scallops, shrimp and sockeye salmon with a touch of tarragon.

VALUE: Although this intriguing and complex white is well worth the $12 I paid, it makes sense to shop around, as pricing at Internet merchants varies dramatically, sometimes as low as $6.

WHEN TO DRINK: Although the style of the wine suggests that it should hold under careful cellaring, the blue-plastic synthetic cork can't be relied on for long-term aging. Drink over the next year or so.

"Grillo" = "Greel-loe"
"Arancio" = "Ah-RAHN-cho"

WEB LINK: The winery Website, part of the Gruppo Mezzocorona, a consortium of eight producers in four Italian regions, features Feudo Arancio in English at this link:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Look for Feudo Arancio on,

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


For information, E-mail


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives