Inzolia is a white grape varietal with its more recent heritage to be found on the island of Sicily in Italy - and is also known as Ansonica in Tuscany. Not much is actually known about the full history and origin of the Inzolia varietal, though it is well thought that it started its more documented history that we relate to today on Sicily. With it presumably being introduced to the island by the Greeks, but there are a few rumours that its roots can be linked to the region of Normandy in France.
What is for sure is that this grape has been grown since ancient times in Sicily, Sardinia, on the Isle of Elba and the Argentario area of Tuscany. Research is still being done, as there is limited historical evidence of how it reached these places so distant from one another.
In Sicily Inzolia has became the island’s third most widely grown grape variety, though on Sardinia it has all but disappeared, on the Isle of Elba it is used as a table grape, and in Argentario it has been used to produce a wine with a distinctive character.
Inzolia is also one of the three classic grape varietals used in the vinification, winemaking of Marsala, the unctuous fortified sweet wine of Sicily that pairs so well with and is even used in the making of baked sweet desserts. Unfortunately for many around the world - Marsala is only experienced hidden in the dish called ‘Chicken Marsala’. But when a quality Marsala is served slightly chilled and paired with roasted almonds, figs, dried fruits, pastries and desserts - wow what a combination.
In Sicily Inzolia is grown in the west of the island in and around the area of Trapani, expressing itself well in the warm climate and is vinified normally in stainless steel tank and without oak to give full-flavoured wines with a moderate ageing potential. It is often blended with Chardonnay or other native white varietals. Inzolia gives wines tropical aromas like pineapple, and also notes of sweet almonds, citrus fruits and also fresh herbs. On the other side of the island, there are wineries making wines which can be a 50/50 blend of Inzolia and Grecanico.
On a recent visit in 2012, the expressions that I tried were at their best with a few years of bottle development when the personality of the Inzolia grape takes centre stage. In their youth they can be fairly restrained, with notes of almond and sweet apples whilst on the palate it is bright, lively and decisive with firm acidity, with a concentrated fruit quality that has a distinctive Italian bitter almond character, or sharp green herbs, through to firm pears and sweet lemon fruit notes.
Perfect with shellfish and clean simple seafood dishes - where many Inzolia wines present mineral notes, with good structure and more styles are showing the potential of longevity - with those being blend with varietals like Grecanico.