In Tuscany, this grape grows on the Monte Argentario coastline, a gorgeous location in lower Tuscany. Some of the well known towns in the area are Manciano, Orbetello and Capalbio. Capalbio is the local hangout of well to do left leaning politicians in Italy. This part of Maremma is not far from Rome. The area is very well known both for its seaside villages, hill towns and ancient Etruscan ruins.
Ansonica also grows on the small island called Giglio which is part of the Tuscan Archipelago and used to be grown on the larger island, Elba. Giglio is a beautiful place where many Romans and Florentines vacation. Ansonica is the principal grape in the recent Costa dell’Argentario DOC or Denominazione d’origine controllata wine.
The vines are all on terraces and harvesting them is a difficult task. Ansonica from Tuscany is fruity and balanced with low acidity and low alcohol.
While no one is certain of its province, it is thought that Ansonica arrived in Sicily with the Normans and then spread to other small areas in Italy. Recently, studies have suggested that it is actually generically related to the Greek varieties, Rhoditis and Sideritis.
Ansonica once grew in Sardinia although recently it has only made real progress in Sicily where it is ubiquitous, generally blended with Catarratto and Grillo, two white grape varieties.
Ansonica is the base for some monovarietal wines in Western Sicily as well such as those of the wineries Donnafugata, Corvo and others. It is one of the components in a variety of Sicilian DOCs such as Contessa Entellina, Menfi, and Erice among others.
When blended with Catarratto it is usually a 50%/50% blend. When it is used to make Marsala in the province of Trapani it is usually blended with Catarratto and/or Grillo and another grape called Damaschino.
Marsala can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet with residual sugars ranging from 40 grams per liter to 100 grams per liter in the sweetest style of the wine. Marsala is often used as an aperitif and in cooking, particularly white meat such as veal or CHICKEN MARSALA
and in ZABAGLIONE.
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Wines made with this grape are readily available in the United States. While the Tuscan version is slightly harder to find, it is by no means impossible. Scarsdale retailer Zachy’s in Scarsdale, New York carries it as do Crush and Morrell’s in New York City, Gary’s Wines in Wayne, New Jersey and NapaCabs in California.
The Sicilian version is all available nationwide through a number of retailers. The top selling Marsala brand, Florio, is very widely distributed in the United States. It is imported by Banfi Vintners.