Mortellito ‘Calaiancu’ Bianco
Grillo 90% + Catarratto 10%
Pachino, Noto, Sicily 2018
The Grillo grape variety is likely named from the word Grilli, meaning pip, as opposed to Grillo, which means Cricket. It is also an important grape in Marsala production but more often found in the high quality stuff rather than the bulk ‘cooking wine.’ In fact, it is thought to have the highest potential for quality out of the more widely planted white grapes on the island (e.g. Catarratto, Ansonica; Carricante is in a class by itself.) on the island, but once again due to farmers conditioned to grow for volume – let’s just say you’ve got to kiss a lot of crickets before you find a princely Grillo such as this.
Dario Serrentino, after years of selling his grapes to now famous pioneers in Sicilian natural wine (Frank Cornelissen, Lamoresca) he finally started Mortellito in 2014. Dario also sits in the natural wine camp, but his approach is making clean wines which taste ‘extreme only in their deliciousness.’ Amen to that. The Noto region can get pretty stinking hot (see: same latitude as Morocco or Tunisia) but Dario’s family has been quite fortunate to have land rich with limestone, which helps keep the sugars in check, the acidity high, as well as providing the mineral backbone that all good island born white wines require. I love this quote from the importer:
“His wines have a tempered hedonism, a mix of ‘taking’ in the sun (as the Italian idiom goes), and then ‘taking a bath’ in the salty-cool sea.”