Marsala DOC

Marsala DOC

Description to Marsala DOC

DOC area for liqueur wine in the Italian region Sicily, He is one of the best known Dessert wines in the world and is named after the port city of the same name (Arabic Marsah-el-Allah = Port or Gate of God) in the province of Trapani. The zone with over 5,000 hectares of vineyards covers with the exception of the Sicily offshore and associated island Pantelleria, as well as the municipalities of Alcamo and Favignana the entire province of Trapani. In 1770 came the English merchant and wine expert John Woodhouse to Marsala and started exporting Sicilian wines to England because there is a need for port wine and sherry the offer exceeded. The year of the "invention" is 1773, as Woodhouse each of the intended for England four hundred liter barrels eight liters when restricted. He had already been in Portugal with the production of port wine employed. In 1796 he opened in Marsala the first Marsala house consisting of a warehouse and winery.

The success of the wine was initiated, so to speak, by the English Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), who ordered in the year 1800 for the fleet an annual supply of 500 barrels. In 1812 the Englishman Benjamin Ingham founded a second company in Marsala and also exported the wine to North America and Australia. The largest, still existing Marsalahaus Florio was opened in 1832 by Vincenzo Florio. All three companies eventually became in 1929 from the vermouth house Cinzano accepted.


The DOC rules of 1969 were still allowed flavoring with ingredients like bananas, eggs, cinchona, Strawberries, almonds, cream, coffee etc. too. Especially the egg yolk staggered "Marsala all'Uovo" was popular. These types called "Marsala Speciale" even had their own DOC status. The sometimes quite adventurous concoctions ultimately contributed to the bad image. Very restrictive DOC regulations were issued in 1994. The special forms could no longer be called Marsala and the permitted additives and methods were strictly regulated. The starting product, depending on the type of marsala, is a different blend of the white varieties Ansonica ( Inzolia ) Catarratto Bianco. Damaschino and Grillo, as well as the red varieties Calabrese ( Nero d'Avola ) Nerello Mascalese. Nerello Cappuccio and pignatello ( Perricone ).

Marsala - bottle and glass

There are the three color types Oro (white, gold), amber (white, amber ) and Rubino (ruby red, aged amber). For all Oro and Ambra types, the four white grape varieties are blended in any mixture, the three red (70-100%) and the white varieties (up to 30%) for all Rubino types. For all three Marsala qualities, there are these three color variants. The wines are sweetened in the secco (dry, sweetness under 40 g / l), semisecco (semi-dry, 40 to 100 g / l) and dolce (sweet, over 100 g / l). Since 1984, only the two types Fine and Superiore "Mosto cotto" (cooked, thickened must) for sweetening and / or "sifone" (fortified must) may be added. At the label are sometimes abbreviations for the type of production included.

Marsala types

However, the great time of Marsala seems to be over. From the mid-1980s, there was a short-term renaissance due to the stricter DOC regulations introduced in 1984, but in the meantime, the wine, rich in tradition, is slowly disappearing into oblivion. Production volumes fell sharply. The types Vergines / Soleras are only available in small quantities. The label mentions the product name: variant, color and sweetness; for example "Marsala Vergine Stravecchio Oro Secco".

Fine : The most common type in terms of quality, the quality is rather low reputation, because most of the simplest wines are produced. The maturation period is at least one year, but this does not have to be done in the barrel. The alcohol content must be at least 17% vol. The label can be IP (Italy Particular).

Superiore : The aging period in wooden barrels is at least two and for Superiore Riserva at least four years. The alcohol content must be at least 18% vol. For the most part, these wines are sweet (dolce) expanded. The label can be SOM (Superior Old Marsala), LP (London Particular) or GD (Garibaldi Dolce).

Vergine or Soleras : In this high-quality Marsala type, wines from different vintages and qualities are similar to the Solera system at the sherry artfully blended together. The sweeten and Spriten is prohibited over the other two types. He is also the only type expanded only in "secco". The alternatively used additional designations Vergine and Soleras, as well as Riserva and Stravecchio have the same meaning. The maturing times in the barrel are at least five; for Vergine (Soleras) Stravecchio or Vergine (Soleras) Riserva at least ten years. The alcohol content must be at least 18% vol.


Well-known producers are (with some historical factories): Marco de Bartoli, Donnafugata (does not produce any more), Florio, Pellegrino and Rallo. Bartoli does not mention the name "Marsala" on his label (no DOC status) in his top product "Vecchio Samperi" in Vergine quality, but only markets it as a simple vino (formerly known as "Vino") Vino da Tavola ). The reason is discrepancies with the competent authorities.

Image: By User: Mahlum - Own work, Public domain, Link

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