Cantine Pellegrino Marsala Rubino is the more unusual red style of Marsala, made from red grapes, and is bottled as a Vino Marsala Fine DOP. As a red fortified wine it is an interesting alternative to Port wines and other red dessert wines like Aleatico or Recioto. Marsala is one of the world’s greatest fortified wines but unfortunately, and rather unfairly, is often seen as a poor relation to the rather more famous Port, Madeira and Sherry Wines. It is almost certainly the most famous Italian fortified wine style and it is 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 Rubino Fine is made from red grapes sourced from 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 Nero d’Avola. 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 (a grape brandy). Vino Marsala Fino DOP is one of the younger styles of Marsala wines and has has to be for at least 1 year. Cantine Pellegrino Marsala Rubino Fine exceeds this with a maturation of over 12 months in Alliers oak casks of 50 and 20 hl and then a further 6 months in oak barriques.