This is part of a series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word posts once a week, covering everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term. If you have a recommendation or request, please leave it in the comments.
Catarratto (n.) Grape
Catarratto [KAH-tahr-RAHT-toh] is a Sicilian native white variety that dates back to at least the late 17th century. It is the sole grape in Il Censo Praruar 2013, which I wrote about earlier this week. A wine class instructor and Master Sommelier once told me there were over 1,000 different vine varieties in Italy. It would seem that's a difficult number to lock down, as there are hundreds of native varieties alone, some of which carry different names in different provinces, and not all of them have been DNA tested. Catarratto is one of those many indigenous grapes and, according to a 2010 census, the third most planted in the country (after sangiovese) and the second most planted white variety (after Sardinia's torbato), planted, as far as documented, only in Sicily. There is research to suggest that catarratto is connected to grillo, muscat of alexandria, garganega and a handful of others as a step-sibling or grandparent, likely all relatives as a result of natural crossings in the vineyard.
What to expect from catarratto is - in the most attentive and skilled hands - citrus aromas and flavors, herbs, medium body and good acidity. It can also be, as we discovered in the Praruar, some nuttiness. I'm on the prowl for a good quality, fresh version of the grape, so if you've had one recently, please shoot me an email!