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Passito di Pantelleria DOC

The island of Pantelleria, formed by underwater explosions dating back over 500,000 years, is in the middle of the Straits of Sicily only 37 miles from North Africa. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters and rain is scarce The most important agricultural product of the island is grapes, particularly the “Zibibbo”. This varietal of grape arrived on the island from Mesopotamia or Egypt and today represents almost the totality of vines which cover 70% of the cultivatable land that dates back to 217 BC when the Roman military occupied the island, and “passum” wine (passito) was made out of grapes from a particularly developed cultivation of vines. The characteristics of this volcanic soil and continuous exposure to the sun, produces an excellent quality of fruit. It wasn’t until 835 BC however, when the Arabs inhabited Pantelleria and introduced new agricultural products and cultivation methods such as pruning and an irrigation system using only rain and an ingenious system of basins, that their agriculture prospered. In 1861 the island became part of Italy.

The ancient Minardi family cellar is located in Contrada Karuscia, overlooking the Pantelleria sea, where for over 40 years, Andrea Minardi has been making his exquisite passito wine with the methods handed down from father to son. The Minardi wine cellar is one of the most ancient cellars operating on the island today, incorporating techniques to better implement the traditional Pantelleria vinification processes.

Andrea’s family winemaking business is a genuine passion and his main goal is to produce the highest quality wine, while complying with ancient traditions. The vines are planted along the rocky coasts in the residue of some 50 extinct volcanoes. These low stunted vines are protected by stone walls against winds from the Sahara which are tamed slightly by crossing the sea. In August, the grapes are carefully selected and hand picked. Then, the very ancient process of drying the grapes by placing them on drying mats under the hot Pantelleria sun, is done. After this slow and completely natural process of drying is completed, the grapes are softly pressed and fermented with the skin, thereby adding to the intensity of the Zibibbo’s high sugar extract.

The wine is aged in the bottle for at least 12 months, but the longer you leave it to age, the better it will be. It has an intense golden yellow color, changing to amber during the aging process. The taste is sweet and has a fragrant moscato flavor which makes for a superb desert wine.

This “golden nectar of the Gods” can be thoroughly enjoyed as a “stand-alone” wine or to delight the end of a meal by pairing with desserts such as almond cakes or dried fruits or nuts such as almonds or walnuts; an amazing match to hot or fermented cheeses. In order to fully appreciate the outstanding features of this delicious treat, serve at room temperature.