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Slow Wine is the official Slow Food magazine dedicated to discovering the world of Italian wine. Join Slow Wine for Italian wine showcases in Los Angeles (Jan. 27), San Francisco (Jan. 29) and New York City (Feb. 2 and 3).

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Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is also one of the Italian regions most intensely planted with vines, with about 271,700 acres of vineyards. To put that in perspective, another region with a great winemaking tradition, Piedmont, has half that surface area dedicated to viticulture.

Vines have been grown in Sicily ever since it was colonized by the Greeks in the pre-Roman era, 500 years before the birth of Christ. The island’s growers are helped by a climate ideal for grapevine cultivation, with many days of sun and very high temperatures.

The landscape is characterized by the plateau formed by the Hyblaean Mountains, which lies mostly in the province of Ragusa, celebrated for its baroque architecture. The countryside offers the perfect union between the signs of human agriculture—bright white drystone walls edge the fields—and wild nature, the coastline edged with sandy dunes and rocky outcrops.

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Since 2005, Cerasuolo di Vittoria has been (for now) the only wine in Sicily to boast DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin) status, testifying to its great historical importance—historical, rather than contemporary. Despite a very important past it has only been rediscovered by Italian and international consumers in recent years. In past centuries it was one of the world’s most-sold wines , especially for blending. But after the First World War it fell into deep obscurity, as peasants and farmers abandoned their vineyards, and risked disappearing completely.

But let’s come to the present day. The Cerasuolo di Vittoria production area falls within three provinces: Ragusa, Caltanissetta and Catania. The small town of Vittoria, founded in 1607, is the nerve center for the wine’s production. We are in the southernmost part of Sicily, at a latitude further south than the African city of Tunis. As a result, the climate is defined by very high annual average temperatures and dry summers with little precipitation. What makes the landscape of this denomination unique is the soil, made up of reddish sand, ostensibly light but contributing decisively to the main sensory characteristics of this important red.

Not a huge number of wineries produce this wine, but almost all of them are focused on quality, and this ensures that the average standard of Cerasuolo on the market is very high. Read about our five favorites in the first issue of Slow Wine magazine, available now for free.