Cantine Pellegrino Marsala Oro Superiore Riserva DOP is a sweeter style of Marsala, the famous Italian fortified wine made in the north western region of the island of Sicily.
Unlike other fortified wines, the creation of Marsala can be pinpointed to one man, Englishman, John Woodhouse. Woodhouse was a connoisseur of Port, Madeira and Sherry and when he arrived in the city of Marsala in 1770, it wasn’t long before he thought to try fortifying the local wines. In 1773 he added 8 litres of grape brandy to 400 litre barrels of wine, shipped it to England, and, effectively Marsala was born. Marsala first received Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1969. Today, Cantine Pellegrino, along with their competitors Cantine Florio, are recognised as the two top Marsala producers. Cantine Pellegrino came a little after Woodhouse. It was established in 1880 by Paolo Pellegrino and the company today remains in family ownership (one of only 2 to do so) and is one of only 3 Marsala houses founded in the 19th century that is still in existence.
There are quite a few different style of Marsala and they vary in terms of sweetness (from sweet through to dry), in terms of ageing (some in a system similar to the Solera system in Sherry, some in single casks) and then in the length of times the wines are aged. Most Marsala is white, but some is also made from red grapes. Read more about Marsala here.
Cantine Pellegrino Marsala Oro Superiore Riserva DOP is made from grapes sourced from vineyards surround Marsala and Mazara del Vallo in the province of Trapani. The vineryards here have clay-limestone, sandy, slightly clayish soils and are situated a few meters above sea level. It is made from the manually harvested white grape varieities Grillo, Cataratto and Inzolia. During the vinification process, the fermentation process is stopped with the addition of a grape spirit that has been aged for at least 5 years in oak cask (basically a grape brandy). As a Marsala Superiore Riserva it has to be at aged for at least 4 years and the Cantine Pellegrino Marsala Oro is aged for over 4 years in 80 hl and 50 hl oak barrels, with at least 6 months in barriques.