Martinez (Sicilia) bring Marsala and fortified wines to the Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Italian Cellar

9 04 2009

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Wine Pleasures is pleased to announce a first! – fortified wines present at a Wine Pleasures Workshop.

martinez-1In 1866 Carlo and Francesco Martinez founded MARTINEZ, a winery destined to become one of the most ancient firms in Marsala.

Marsala is the west part of the island of Sicily. In 1798 the Sicilians managed to substitute their own wines in place of the standard rum in an English naval shipment. In those seafaring days, something had to be done to wine to allow it to last the long ocean journeys. Brandy was added to allow the wine to last longer, and to be more resistant to temperature changes. These were called “fortified wines”. production-area-marsala

Once the British had a taste of Marsala, demand grew quickly. In the US during Prohibition, things became even more interesting. The typical Marsala bottles made the wine look like medicine. People found that getting Marsala was less risky than other types of wine. While not as popular now, it is still used quite frequently as a cooking wine in Italian dishes.

Marsala uses the following grapes:

  • white skin/berry grapes: Grillo, Catarratto, Inzolia and Damaschino for golden and amber Marsala
  • dark red skin/berry grapes: Pignatello, Calabrese, Nerello Mascalese, Nero d’Avola for ruby red Marsala

Marsala is made in the “solera” tradition – a melding of years. First, a keg is filled with wine from the current vintage of grapes. Subsequent years with similar tastes are placed in kegs above the first. When liquid is drawn out of the bottom (oldest) keg, it is refreshed with liquid from the next keg up, and so on. In this manner, the taste remains the same throughout the cycle, and every bottle you get has (potentially) some liquid from the very first vintage.

Types of Marsala

  • Fine: 17° alcohol, aged >1 yr
  • Superiore: 18° alcohol, aged >2 years
  • Superiore Riserva: 18° alcohol, aged 4 years
  • Vergine Soleras: 18° alcohol, aged 5 years

Marsala was traditionally served between the first and second courses. It is now also served, chilled, with Parmesan (stravecchio), Gorgonzola, Roquefort and other, spicy cheeses.

Martinez are now in their sixth generation as they continue to elevate the tradition and the quality, looking always to improve and fulfill in modern market needs.

The Martinez winery covers about 6,000 square metres of area and includes the wine processing one, the Marsala wine ageing and the bottling area. It has a capacity of 40,000 hectolitres,  8,000 of which in oak and cherry-wood casks, necessary in Marsala wine and fortified wines ageing process.

Martinez have always been interested in long ageing wines and old reserves. They produce six kinds of  Marsala:

 In Fortified Wines they make 5 kinds. They also have 4 table wines to offer buyers attending the Wine Pleasures Workshop.

If you would like to find out more about Marsala, Marsala substitutions, sweet vs dry marsala, storing marsala, matching suggestions…. please feel free to contact the winery through their website.

martinez-museo1If you are a wine importer/merchant then come and meet Agnese of the Martinez winery at the Buyer meets Italian Workshop. Just complete the enrollment form.

 Wine tourism

Good news for wine tourists! Martinez is open for visits and would be delighted to see people who are interested in learning about marsala wines and wine making.


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