Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vinitaly 2014 and Expo MIlan 2015

Fran and Bill at Vinitaly 2014 (photo courtesy of Cronache di Gusto)

We recently returned from Vinitaly in Verona.  As you enter the fair through VeronaFiere’s main gate called Cangrande, the Sicilia Padiglione (pavilion) is among the first to catch your eye.  This four-day wine trade show, the largest in Italy, is open to the public on the first day only.  As in recent years, the Sicily pavilion is a magnet for consumers.  The Donnafugata, Planeta, Tasca, Cusumano and Settesoli stands, among others, were packed with wine lovers savoring the vibrant flavors of Sicily.  In the corner of the pavilion is the “Business Area” where Sicilian wine producers meet with importers, distributors and retailers during the remaining three days.  It is also an area where the Region of Sicily sponsors a program of lectures and panel discussions.  This year the program included events on individual wine appellations, like the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG in the Val di Noto and the Monreale DOC in the Val di Mazara – West.  There were also a series of panels on Sicilian extra-virgin olive oil and the cultural highlights of the Sicilian wine road.

Among the many initiatives supported by the Region of Sicily’s then-current Secretary of Agriculture, Dario Cartabellotta at this year's Vinitaly, is the Bio-Mediterranean Cluster at the Expo Milan 2015, the international exposition which will run from May 1 until October 31, 2015.  The theme of Expo Milan 2015 is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” and the Bio-Mediterranean Cluster will be a pavilion which showcases the bio-diversity and richness of the Mediterranean’s agriculture and foods.  Sicily, consistent with its geographic and historic role at the center of the Mediterranean, is slated to lead the Bio-Mediterranean Cluster (including twelve other countries) in this high profile event.  Sicily’s wine, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, seafood, breads and sweets will all be on delicious display.  We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Putting Sicily on the Map

Sicilia  in the Ebstorf Mappamundi (V&A)
In the thirteenth century world map known as the Ebstorf Mappamundi the island of Sicily was depicted as a plump apple, pomegranate or peach-shaped fruit.  While the original of this map was destroyed in World War II, there is a glorious color reproduction of it in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  From the Classical Age through the Middle Ages, Sicily was at the center of European politics and culture.  Celebrated for its fertility and coveted for its strategic position in the Middle Sea between Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, Sicily was the very heart of the Mediterranean.  This may come as a surprise in our modern era.  Since the earliest waves of immigrants who left their island home to find a better life in the New World in the early twentieth century, Sicily languished as a long-forgotten corner of Europe in the public’s imagination.  In the tradition of its honored poets, playwrights, and storytellers, Sicily’s winegrowers are now putting Sicily on the world’s cultural map.  The vibrant and diverse flavors of Sicilian wine are bringing Sicily to life for a new generation of wine lover – genuinely seeking to understand this place called Sicilia.

Last week in London, we were honored and thrilled for our book, The World of Sicilian Wine, to win the 2013 Andr√© Simon Drink Book Award:  We hope that in our own small way we have helped to put Sicily on the map.  In the words of an esteemed Sicilian winegrower upon learning this news of the Andr
√© Simon Drink Book Award, Viva La Sicilia!