The Oldest Family-Owned Producer of Marsala Wine
In 1875 Bizet premiered his Carmen at the Opera Comique in Paris. That same year Vito Curatolo decided to build a winery in the middle of his vineyards in Marsala. After 5 generations Vito’s dreams are kept alive by his grandsons and great-grandchildren. Today they are the oldest family-owned Marsala producing business in continuous family ownership.
The estate has always been linked to high-quality Marsala production and in the late 1970s also started producing still wines from native grapes. The new range of wines under the Curatolo Arini label showcases a great expression of native Sicilian varieties. Light wines from local grapes Grillo, Inzolia, and Cataratto are fortified with white grape spirits in the traditional way and are then cask aged. Made in the traditional way, the Marsala Fine is dry in style and has all the characteristics of good Marsala with notes of toasted almonds, citrus and caramel.
Winemaker Alberto Antonini has also been recently named by Decanter Magazine as one of the ‘Top 5 winemakers in the world’.
The History of Marsala
The Story of Marsala begins in 1773 when John Woodhouse’s ship sought shelter in Marsala harbour after a storm. During his stay he enjoyed the local wine called Perpetuum so he decided to bring some back home, and to avoid alteration, he added some alcohol: Marsala wine was born.
Other British entrepreneurs soon followed his path organizing Marsala production and shaping our territory forever. By the end of 18th century the Sicilian wine had replaced Rhum on board the British Royal Navy ships and soon became Nelson’s favourite “Victory Wine”.
The DOC Marsala includes nearly all the province of Trapani and falls right in the middle of the “sunny belt” a strip of land included between the 34° and the 43° parallel where you can find the most favourable climatic conditions for growing grape varietals used for fortified wines. Plenty of sunshine and heat, constant sea winds that mitigate high temperatures and dry out humidity and generous soils give away grapes that keep full ripeness over a long period of time, that have a bold character and that are rich both in sugars and perfumes.
Marsala Wine Production
Marsala wine is obtained blending different ingredients following old recipes passed from generations and that keep every Marsala unique. After the blending or the “concia”, the wine starts the ageing process in traditional Slavonian oak casks.
– Base wine DOC from Grillo, Catarato, Inzolia, Damaschino or Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese and Pignatello
– Alcohol from grapes
– Cooked must
– Mistella made from fresh DOC
Marsala Wine Classification
Alcohol level: minimum 17% for the Fine, 18% for the Superiore and 19% for the Marsala Vergine
Sugar level: Dry, Semidry and Sweet
Colour: Gold, Amber or Rubino, Ruby
Ageing: minimum 1 year for the Fine, 2 years for the Superiore, 4 years for the superior riserva, 5 years for the Vergine and Vergine Riserva at least 10 years
The Most Important Vineyards of Curatolo Arini
Grillo Catarratto and Inzolia grow in in western Sicily, between Salemi and Vita at 500 a.s.l. The medium texture limestone-siliceous soil together with a good thermal range, ensure ideal conditions to enhance the character of the varietals. Vines are planted facing East using the trellis system, and guyot pruning.
Zibibbo grows in a single vineyard in Western Sicily on the slopes of the hills facing Castellammare del Golfo at approx 300 m. a.s.l. Medium texture limestone soil combined with the warm air currents coming from the sea is ideal for the ripening process of the grapes. Vines are planted facing South West using the trellis system and guyot pruning.
Nero d’Avola grapes grow in Central Sicily in the Caltanissetta district at approx 500m a.s.l. Medium texture limestone, clay soil and a perfect temperature range ensure great conditions during all the ripening phases. Vines are planted facing South using the trellis system, Guyot pruning.
Syrah grows in Western Sicily in the Trapani district, at approx 170 m a.s.l. The medium texture limestone soil and the perfect microclimate ensure perfect conditions for the ripening phases and for enhancing the concentration characteristics of the varietal. Vines are planted facing South using the trellis system, Guyot pruning.
Grillo Cataratto and Inzolia, the white grape varietals that are used for the King of Italian fortified wines, are grown in the coastal area of Marsala in the districts of Triglia Scaletta and Birgi. Plenty of sunshine and heat, constant sea winds that mitigate high temperatures and dry out humidity and generous calcareous-clay soils give away grapes that keep full ripeness over a long period of time, that have a bold character and that are rich both in sugars and perfumes.
The Wines of Curatolo Arini
The single-vineyard Zibibbo (the local name for Muscat of Alexandria) is grown in vineyards in the western part of Sicily, just inland from Marsala. It is dry and aromatic in style and pairs perfectly with food. The Nero d’Avola grapes come from vineyards in central Sicily, in the province of Caltanissetta. The vineyards here are 500 metres above sea level, where the combination of warm days and cool nights helps produce premium, fruit-driven red wines. Thanks to the favourable climate in Sicily, consistency in quality can be guaranteed from vintage to vintage.
The Marsalas, still made in the traditional way, are the real deal and make a great alternative to Sherry. The stunning art-deco label was designed by Ernesto Basile, a famous Palermo architect in the latter part of the 19th century. The Marsala Fine is an expressive dry style with delicious notes of dried citrus and toasted almonds. The Marsala Superiore uses base wines made from the native Sicilian grapes Grillo, Inzolia and Catarratto fortified with white grape spirit and aged for five years in cask. The Riserva is only made in the best vintages and has a similar ageing process, the result is a rich, aromatic and heady wine. The Marsala Vergine Riserva is also only made in the best vintages and has a longer ageing process that lasts almost 25 years. As a result of this, it has beautiful length and complexity.
Check out Curatolo Arini’s full range of Marsala and Still Wines on TWDC!