Wine in Sicily

I love wine, and I love travel. It’s obvious I’m not alone in this. I’ve visited great wine regions from Australia, to France, to China, but one region I never considered is Sicily…until now.

The Planeta family put Sicily on the map for quality wines. It’s blockbuster Chardonnay astounded critics and wine lovers, and continues to win awards.

Diego Planeta started Planeta Wines in 1985, but it took ten years before the wines were released commercially. Diego’s nephew Alessio says: “The 1980′s was a period of scandal and crisis. We had to do something very different to shake off the poor image of Sicilian wines.”

When the family released it’s 1995 wines, the quality was superior, and a star was born. What interests me most about visiting Planeta, is tasting their different varietals. Planeta produces native whites like Grecanico, Carricante and Fiano. Their reds include Nero d’Avola, Frappato and the rare Nocera.

All of these unique choices are not easy to find, which this is why Sicily is at the top of my Wine & Travel list.


Johnny Depp’s Vineyard

In 2007, Johnny Depp bought his long-term girlfriend Vanessa Paradis a Vineyard Estate just North West of St. Tropez.

That expensive gift has turned into a labor of love. A Winery mole said: “He is very serious about his hobby and does everything himself – from selecting the grapes to working the machinery. He’s done wine-tasting courses, and has read virtually all there is to read on the subject.”

It turns out Depp ships his home-grown wine to movie sets he works on . He shipped 10 crates to the set of Public Enemies to keep him and the crew going. There wasn’t enough to go around, so he even shipped in his favorite Petrus Bordeaux, handing it out to everyone on set.

Depp’s favorite wine is Bordeaux third growth Château Calon-Ségur. Petrus and Château Cheval-Blanc are also among the actor’s favorites.

The next Depp movie just might see the likes of a wine thief.


Hanna Winery’s Private Label

Last night I opened one of the 3 bottles I had of the amazing ’05 Elias Pinot Noir. This is a Private Label Pinot from Hanna Winery in the Russian River Valley. It’s estate grown and blew my palate away AGAIN!

The Elias Label is a tribute to the founder of Hanna Winery, Dr. Elias S. Hanna. Less than 200 cases of the Estate Pinot were made, making it a very special bottle.

The ’05 Elias Pinot opens with fresh plum and flows into a really smooth texture through the middle. It finishes with a hint of mellow pepper. It’s bolder than the usual Pinot, which is why it’s one of my favorites.

If you haven’t been to Hanna Winery yet, I suggest you visit on your next trip to Northern Cal. They make some addictingly tasty wines!