Muscat-grape elixir from Pantelleria

Sowing

Typical vegetation on the island of Pantelleria is scrub consisting of cultivations, mainly vineyards. It has been inhabited by several civilizations, but was occupied by the Arabs in the 18th century. They transformed the island by cultivating every section and introducing grape vines, and in particular the Zibibbo or muscat grape.

This vine variety is still cultivated according to age-old techniques involving the gobelet pruning method. Plants are kept very short and the number of buds per plant is kept low. The grape vines are grown within small volcanic basins where only a little water and the night moisture are collected. They are shaped by the wind and its saltiness. Vineyards are delimited by dry-stone walls built to protect them.

The soil in Pantelleria is volcanic and sandy, and is enriched with minerals and silicates, including clay and humus produced by the break-up of the substratum lava.

 

Harvesting

Harvesting is strictly by hand. Grape bunches are picked and selected one-by-one and are immediately withered if they are to be used to make dry muscat-grape elixir.
In Pantelleria, the Moscato di Alessandria variety has several sequential flowerings: The first grapes with the highest sugar content are picked in August, spread out on mats and at times covered with nylon sheets to protect them from the evening humidity and intensity of the sun's rays during the day. The grapes from the next flowering are picked in September. They have less sugar and are used to make wine.

It has been given many names: Moscato d'Alessandria, Moscato di Pantelleria and Salamanna in Tuscany. It's a variety that produces the famous raisins from Pantelleria, but is also excellent when eaten fresh.

This reduction is obtained by slowly cooking Zibibbo grape purée and sugar.


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