Marco De Bartoli, Sicily

Marco De Bartoli, Sicily

Marco de Bartoli is considered one of Sicily’s guardians the native Sicilian white grape varieties, Grillo and Zibibbo. He produces them on two separate estates: the first in Marsala, in Sicily’s south-west corner; the other on the small island of Pantelleria, south-east of Sicily.

Grillo, which historically forms the basis of Marsala’s classic wines, has been grown on the island since Phoenecian times.

Scion of two industrial producers, Pellegrino & Mirabella, in 1978 Marco De Bartoli chose the lonely route to quality, deciding to grow & vinify the fruit himself in-house. To re-inforce this message he launched their flagship wine: ‘Vecchio Samperi’, named after the location of their baglio/farm, ‘Samperi’ and first made in 1980, it is a prestigious “Vergine” wine made using the traditional perpetuum/Solera method. It’s an original ‘Marsala’ made without fortification or the adding of ‘mistella’ (caramelised sweetner), perpetually racked to produce a fine, dry, delicate ‘rancio’ style wine. The complex, harmonious result celebrates the fruit of many harvests.

Another facet of Marco De Bartoli’s work with Grillo led in 1983 to the “Marsala Superiore”, using only Grillo (for quality) and not adding Inzolia or Catarratto (for quantity), which is aged in oak barrels and fortified, as tradition would have it. In 1992 Marco De Bartoli added “Grappoli del Grillo” to his collection: here Grillo is vinified as a dry white table wine, with its unmistakable character of Mediterranean spice.

His children, Renato, Sebastiano and Giuseppina have now succeeded their father, continuing along the path of quality, but their campaign is to further promote Sicily’s autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties -in the face of the sea of international ones-, notably local Grillo, Zibibbo, Catarratto & red Pignatello (Perricone), through dry still andsparkling wines; the latter called ‘Terzavia’ in reference to the three ways in which Grillo can be vinified: oxidative, still white and sparkling.

And since 1986 they have been producing a sweet Passito on the island of Pantelleria, close to Tunisia. Here the family own 8ha of Zibibbo vineyards (Muscat di Alessandria/Canelli) at the contrada/frazione of Bukkuram, making only a couple of thousand cases a year.

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