Feudo Santa Tresa Rina Russa Frappato, Terre Siciliane, Sicily, Italy 2018 (£10.95, Vintage Roots) Come to Sicily for some of the best cheap wines in the world! Well, it’s a slogan. Not a great one, admittedly, but it is at least partly accurate. The island’s enormous co-operative, Cantine Settesoli, has 2,000 members and accounts for 5% of the wine produced. It’s good at taking advantage of the island’s benign growing conditions to make wines of juicy, sunny fruit from grape varieties both local and imported. Often their name is obscured in the supermarket own-brand small print, but you can find it on a pair of wines in the Sorso range at Morrisons: the lemony grillo 2018 and the plummy nero a’avola 2018 (both £6.75). Not as cheap, but good value all the same, are the wines from organic estate Santa Tresa, with the frappato full of that grape’s wild strawberry charm.
Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily, Italy 2018 (£17.95, Great Wine) If Sicily is good at the basics, the past couple of decades have seen it develop into one of Europe’s most diverse and creative wine regions, filled with bottles of real personality and charm that are both recognisably Italian and entirely their own thing. I’d start in the area around Vittoria and the wine zone known as Cerasuolo di Vittoria – which is the only part of Sicily to get the official highest-rated status of DOCG. The red wines here are consistently among my favourite Sicilians, blending the two local grapes, nero d’avola and frappato, for wines of tangy fluency and, as in Planeta’s typically well-made version, notes of just-ripe plum, fresh fig and satin-skinned red and black cherry.
La Sabbie dell’Etna Rosso, Etna, Sicily, Italy 2017 (£12.99, Waitrose) Much as I love Cerasuolo, the Sicilian region that is causing most excitement right now is the area around Mount Etna. The vineyards are planted on the volcano’s slopes and something about the interaction of altitude, volcanic soil and very old vines produces red wines that can match the pinot noir of Burgundy or the nebbiolo of Piedmont for ethereal aromatic complexity – and white wines with the verve of the best riesling. A well-priced pair – red and white – at Waitrose is a good place to start a vinous Etna expedition: the rosso a classic blend of the two nerellos, mascalese and cappuccio, is lithe and pinot-esque with cherry and raspberry and mineral freshness; the bianco (also £12.99), from carricante, all soft peach and apricot with an electric crackle of acidity.