Catarratto

Catarratto is a Sicilian white wine grape variety that is the second most widely planted grape variety in Italy. It is also responsible for the most popular white wine. Catarrato's usefulness is concomitant to the spread of cool fermentation technologies and the liberation from its role as one of the key components in Marsala. While Marsala's decline in popularity is to be lamented by fans of complex fortified wine styles, Catarrato's rise in popularity and its profusion as simple dry white wine is equally saddening, given the lack of character of most of them.

In 2000, there were 43,000 hectares of Catarratto Bianco Comune planted in Sicily (down from 60,000 hectares in 1990), and nearly 7,500 hectares of Catarratto Bianco Lucido. The latter is the superior in terms of wine quality, having given up ground to the higher yielding Comune during the 1980's. Smatterings are also found in California.

Catarratto is almost exclusively planted around the far western province of Trapani. It is the major player in but three DOC's which, given its hectarage, suggests that the vast majority of wine made from the grape is compulsorily distilled under the European Union's legal tenets, or turned into grape concentrate to bolster less-than-ideally ripe wines from cooler European zones.

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