Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sicilian Finale

It had been an incredible week of traveling around Sicily, seeing the countryside and tasting the wine and food, but it was about to come to an end. It was the final day for Tracy and I to enjoy this region and we were ready to take full advantage.

I had been told that the breakfast at Hotel Carmine was wonderful and we were not disappointed, There was quite a selection of cheese, fruit, breads, cakes (loved the Nutella cake), eggs and meat. We certainly filled up our plates.

After breakfast, we around the scenic downtown Marsala. The architecture was very European and the narrow alleyways led to a pedestrian mall filled with stores. I wandered around, picking up a bargain Italian leather pocketbook and a few gifts for family. We then walked back to the hotel and waited for Maria Elena from Donnafugata to pick us up.

The Donnafugata Winery in Marsala was not at all what I expected. It was modern and casual, reminding me of a neighborhood in Southern California. It even had palm trees. The underground cellar was brand new and looked so neat and organized. It is part of a new wing that was opened to the public in 2008.

After the tour, we met back up with Antonio and José for a tasting. I got to have a bit more of what had become one  of my favorite wines of the trip, Anthilia, a blend of grillo, chardonnay and viognier which is filled with lemon and tropical flavors like kiwi. Apparently I’m far from the only one who loves it as it is Donnafugata’s number one seller.

I also had some of the Mille e una Notte, a blend of Nero d'Avola, with small amounts of various varieties that are unnamed. It was deep and dark with a fruit forward palate and a long finish of tobacco and spice.

We bid farewell to all the Donnafugata friends we had made during the week and took off with Maria Elena for a drive to another one of the company’s wineries.

We stopped for lunch in Menfi at a cute outdoor restaurant called Porto Palo. Tracy and Maria Elena enjoyed all the fish on the menu, including fried octopus and raw swordfish.  I had some antipasto and pasta, and a wonderful fudge covered parfiato for dessert. It all went well with a bottle of Donnafugata’s Lighea.

From there we headed to the Donnafugata’s Contessa Entilla, which is actually in the back of a family home. When you come through the courtyard and into the front entrance, all you see is the house, but a door just past the dining room leads to this big winery!

Donnafugata processes their red wines from Marsala at this plant and it was an interesting production line. We walked through the vineyards a bit before heading to Palermo and our final hotel, Quintocanto Hotel & Spa, it was a very unusual place that looked like it had built different sections at different times so it took two different elevators and a number of stairs to get to our rooms.

By the time we made it to our rooms we decided we didn’t want to go back out for dinner. Instead we decided to finish our Sicilian adventure by ordering in pizza and calzone as only the Italians can make it.

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