We have gone through the main wine growing regions of mainland Italy- I skipped a couple of the minor ones that aren't as important on the wine scene. Today I want to talk about the two Italian islands- Sicily and Sardinia. Looking at the map, Sicily is the "ball" that the "boot" of Italy appears to be kicking. Sardinia is about 300 miles NW of Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Sicily, the land of Vito Corleone, is an area that has suffered an image problem because most of the wine that comes from there is basically table wine. Probably the most famous wine from Sicily is Marsala- a sweet, fortified wine. It is made from mainly the catarratto, grillo, and perricone grapes, and gets its unique taste from oxidation. Most of the versions here in the U.S. are cheap supermarket brands, but the higher end ones can be really delicious. The only other wine of serious note from Sicily is Nero D'Avola (also called Calabrese). These are deep, dark, earthy, leathery, delicious wines. Try the Cantine Barbera, if you can find it at a retail store.
Sardinia is even more remote, and less important on the wine scene than Sicily. Because there have been a succession of countries that have ruled the islands, there are influences on Sardinia that are not only Italian, but also Spanish and Middle Eastern. The Spanish influence can be seen by the production of Carignano (the same as Spanish Carinena), a decent "grapey" wine. The main grape for winemaking in Sicily is Cannonau- think of low to medium range cali cab, and you have a similar taste profile.
Well, that does it for Italy. Next Thursday, I'm going to launch into the wine regions of France.