Drink the Sun

What do I want to be?

A quick attempt to discover the etymology of the Sicilian grape variety known as Inzolia yielded these google translations from Latin:

in sol ia = the sun is

in solia = throne

insolia = SUN

Drink the sun.

The perpetual search for wine value provides us with certain patterns. One of them is this: use an established wine for which global demand has distorted the value – every era has them – and explore the viticultural margins for substitutes. So Classed Growth Bordeaux gave us Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. So Napa Cabernet Sauvignon gave us Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Etc. etc.

Chardonnay

During one of our latter day Chardonnay crazes the market seemed as if it could absorb no limit of the full-bodied, nutty, tree-fruit flavored liquid. And while farmers everywhere planted more Chardonnay vines, there remained thousands of isolated local cultivars which could be caused to resemble something similar. You might even say some of these exemplified an ideal of Chardonnay better than poorly planned Chardonnay could.

And without the word Chardonnay on the label, these were virtually immune from inflationary price bubbles.

Sicily

Before refrigeration the best way to preserve much of the wine grown in a hot place like Sicily was to fortify it with neutral spirits. In Sicily we call this traditional style of wine Marsala, and among the grapes cultivated for the purpose is Inzolia. But with a stagnant market for traditional fortified wines and a booming market for Pouilly Fuisse, the logical move was to spend some money on modern refrigeration and bring Pouilly Fuisse temperatures to Sicily. Voila: varietal Inzolia table wine.

But careful. The pressure to create a simulated Chardonnay can have all sorts of negative consequences for the drink. Any cosmetic intervention runs the risk of distorting the native humor of a grape. Enologists and their clients can lose the plot in the focus on marketable details.

So, if Inzolia doesn’t want to be Chardonnay, what does it want to be?

Inzolia

Inzolia wants to be Inzolia of course, and its up to us – wine drinkers, wine growers, market forces – to discover what that is. The example from Sallier de la Tour seems like progress to me. The aromas are suggestive of raw almonds and melancholy mineral oxidation. On the palate the acidity seems integrated rather than imposed and the texture is toward the fuller-bodied side. Crucially, one drink of it seems to justify another. I want to serve this wine with cooked ocean critters, like calamari and mussels.

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