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The Inzolia Grape

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About Inzolia

(Synonyms: Ansolica, Ansonica, Ansora, Anzonica, Insolia, Insolia di Palermo, Insora, N’zolia, Zolia Bianca)


Map showing Sicily

Inzolia is a white-wine grape most likely originating in Sicily, its chief contemporary home, but possibly long ago imported thence from Greece. Nowadays, while it is mainly grown in Sicily (chiefly in western Sicily), it also appears in some Tuscan whites, there usually listed as “Ansonica”. Famed Italian wine expert Ian D’Agata insists that the correct name of the grape is Ansonica—and indeed that is how it is listed in Italy’s official register of wine grapes—the Inzolia/Insolia names being Sicilian local terms. Nonetheless, in the U.S. we almost always see wines from this grape labelled Inzolia (or Insolia), so that is the name we use here.

Inzolia—also commonly spelled “Insolia”—is much used (along with Grillo and Cataratto) in the making of Marsala, a sweet fortified wine. As is often the case with grape types used as the base for something else—from Marsala to brandy to Champagne—the base grapes are not themselves very exciting, the value of the end product being generated in the processing. Nonetheless, varietal wines are made of each of those three grapes, and Inzolia and Grillo can, as table wines, occasionally reach levels of reasonable quality.

Inzolia seems chiefly to be characterized as having a “nutty aroma” (possibly oxidative); beyond that, it is a mild, modestly aromatic crisp white wine. (Be aware that the phrase “a crisp white wine” is often used as a form of damning with faint praise, suggesting a lack of any defining excellences in a harmless but unexciting white.) Indeed, Inzolia is more often found in a blend with one or both of its Marsala partners than as a monovarietal; in older days, Inzolia grapes kept on the vine tended to lose acidity, suiting them for use as a fortified-wine base but not as much of a varietal; modern vineyard and winemaking techniques have, however, to some degree mitigated that problem.

Frankly, it is unlikely that one will encounter a remarkable or memorable Inzolia monovarietal, or even blend, but it makes a pleasant choice when an undemanding white is wanted to go with a simple lunch, perhaps of seafood. Still, many wine reviewers, writing of their Inzolia experiences, report frequent disappointments—though relieved by the occasional little gem, so the game may be worth the candle. Caveat emptor.

Factoid: The “z” versus “s” question in the spelling of this wine is mysterious. English-language web sites (and bottlings aimed at that market) mostly prefer the “s” form, while Italian-language sites seem to use the “z” form more— but that “rule” is very far from universal. (Here, we follow Jancis Robinson’s book Wine Grapes and use the “z” spelling; but watch also for Ansonica. Que sera, sera.

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Some Descriptions of Inzolia Wines

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Some Inzolias to Try

(About this list.)

Be wary when sampling any so-called “Inzolia” (or Inzolia or Ansonica), because blends are very common and are not always prominently labelled or described as such by retailers. There is nothing wrong with blends—by and large, winemakers do them because they think the result worth the work—but if you are still developing a sense for a varietal, you ideally want it in pure form. Fortunately, most monovarietal Inzolias are quite modestly priced.

Regrettably, when one pares away with the triple blades of quality, price, and availability, the roster withers severly; what’s left is shown below.

Barbera "Tivitti" Inzolia Menfi

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks.

Montoni Inzolia dei Fornelli

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks.

For a Splurge

We found no Inzolia wines better enough than the ones listed above as to justify any “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Saturday, 30 October 2021, at 11:26 pm Pacific Time.