Cusumano Cantina

I recently received a sample of the 2015 Cusumano Shamaris Grillo, Sicilia DOC. There are a lot of things about this wine that are unique to me. I’ve only had two other Sicilian wines, and that was on March 27 of this year (2016). They, too, were a Wine of the Week. Both were red wines.

  • Stemmari Nero D’Avola
  • Tenuta Rapitala

This Cusumano Shamaris Grillo is a white wine, so this is a first for me, to have any white wine from Sicily. (Wine Century Club #165)

“Grillo” is Italian for “cricket,” just for a simple point of interest that it’s translatable to an insect. The association? Who knows. There are crickets on the island (I checked), and perhaps it was someone’s pet name for the variety? We can’t translate Merlot, Zinfandel, etc., for instance. Somewhere in history there’s a connection.

The images in this post have been borrowed from the Cusumano Website. I recommend that when you have the time, explorer this section of their site. Notice the small circles on the page and enter those circles. They take you everywhere. It’s really nicely done.

All of this led me to yearning to learn more about Grillo. Let’s explore together. Odds are that very few of us know very much, if anything, about this variety. Thanks, Cusumano for sharing!

Grillo from Sicily

Grillo, a white Italian grape variety, has synonyms: Riddu and Rossese bianco. It withstands high temperatures, being on the 37° parallel. This parallel is also located in Santa Cruz, California, just for viticultural potential and perspective. The palm trees in these pictures are also a give-away about its warm climate.

The Grillo is a popular variety in Sicilian wine-making. Although it’s most famous for its role in making fortified Marsala wines; it’s a beautiful stand-alone white wine variety, I just learned.

It’s grown on head-trained vines, and it produces a full-bodied wine. It’s also used as a blending component. According to Kobrand, “Grillo grapes are only planted by three percent in Sicily, as compared to other varieties.” Now we’re honing in on its rarity.

I explored Cusumano’s Website and found their videos fun to watch, besides being very educational:

Its Lineage According to Wine Searcher

Grillo is a Sicilian white grape variety most famous for its role in the island’s fortified Marsala wines. It is still widely planted on Sicily despite Marsala’s fall from fashion, and is now used most commonly in a variety of still white wines, both varietal and blended. Grillo, when vinified to a high standard, makes a fresh, light white wine with nutty, fruit-driven flavors that include lemon and apple.

There is some debate as to the origins of Grillo, as its earliest mention comes as recently as the mid-19th Century. Some believe that the variety is native to Sicily, suggesting it is the progeny of Catarratto and Muscat of Alexandria. Others have hypothesized that it was brought to the island from the southern Italian region of Puglia. There is even some evidence to suggest that this was the variety in the Roman wine Mamertino, a particular favorite of Julius Caesar.

How the 2015 Cusumano Shamaris Grillo tasted

One sip and that equaled an “Oh, wow,” from me. It’s definitely a beautiful wine, very Old World in style, and very much worthy of your attention. Light alcohol of 13 percent, this is definitely a walk on the wild side wine, one that’s deliciously memorable… A taste of Sicily’s Mediterranean bounty. And it’s rare folks, very rare. Only three percent growth on the island. I feel very privileged that Cusumano winery shared with me.

The flavors were so new and intriguing that I had to really think about this Grillo. A bit complex; knowing its 37th parallel location and the island is located in the Mediterranean, I wasn’t completely surprised. But, still this was the first time ever enjoyed this wine’s flavors. With very thoughtful moments of sniffing and swirling, I got star fruit, pineapple, and a viscosity that reminded me of a very light olive oil. Then I got delicate lychee nut and Meyer lemon flavors…

This is a very delightful wine. I went back for more, while writing the notes I wanted to share.