In truth, Catarratto is Italy's second-most planted white wine variety! The grape is primarily used in Marsala but increasingly in dry, fruity white wines.
Catarratto Tasting Notes
On the nose, expect a rich bouquet of sweet fruit aromas ranging from sweet lemon to peach and pineapple. Some wines have an almost banana-honey like quality. Underneath the fruit you'll get hints of floral-herbal notes such as dried flowers or thyme and sage.
On the palate, Catarratto is typically made in dry styles. The taste is broad and somewhat truncated due to the wine's average acidity. That being said, excellent examples have a fresh mineral quality on the finish, almost like thyme, green almond, and wet rocks.
Catarratto is also prolific in Marsala wines which are increasingly viewed as fine sipping wines from Marsala's superior quality classifications.
Food Pairing with Catarratto
Look to the local fare when pairing Sicily's indigenous grapes, seafood risotto with zucchini, sautéed vegetables with fine olive oil, pasta alle vognole (clams), orange and fennel salad, and lighter meats such as pork, chicken, and flaky white fish.
Where Does Catarratto Come From?
If you ever visit Marsala in western Sicily, you'll be greeted with palm trees, and oodles of agriculture surrounding the city including olives, vineyards, and sea salt! This is Catarratto's homeland.
Since Catarratto is so important on the island, you'll find it in Trapani, Palermo, Agrigento (south-west of Marsala), and on the eastern side in Etna.
We've come to learn that the lowland vineyards are really ideal for Marsala production. Whereas, the vineyards in the higher elevations have more crisp acidity and minerality – making them great for dry white wines.
Secrets About Catarratto
If you speak to a Sicilian, they may tell you that there are multiple varieties of Catarratto: Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido. While genetically speaking, these varieties look to be about the same, they produce different qualities in the wines.
Lucido is the variety that most believe produces the finer dry wine with higher acidity. Although, we'd be nowhere without Comune as it's the parent grape of Grillo!
What's surprising is both bio-types, Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido, have been shown to be offspring of Garganega (the grape of Soave in Northern Italy!).