Catarratto Bianco Commune | The second most common white variety in its native Italy; or more precisely a rather sizeable group of similarly named “catarratto” varieties that are considered to be a set of biotypes, but because they are often interplanted, it has been difficult to determine if there are in fact distinct varieties. Although there are two separate entries in the National Registry—Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido, they are currently considered to be biotypes rather than distinct grapes. The argument that they should remain separate is they show different enough morphological, behavioral, and enological traits.

Experts posit that Lucido is responsible for the most refined wines while Comune leans more toward higher sugar and lower acid. Recent DNA analysis confirmed that Grillo is a natural crossing of Catarratto Bianco Lucido and Moscato di Alessandria. The Catarratto Biancos are also shown to be offspring of Garganega, widening Garganega’s family circle even more.

The name | Catarratto’s name derives from its generous yields–see below. Lucido refers to the clear or almost “polished” look of the berry in the absence of bloom.

Wine styles | Usually now dry, still, whites, but can also show up in the blend of Sicily’s fortified Marsala.

Wines in Italy | Sicily: Alcamo DOC. | Contea di Sclafani DOC. | Contessa Entellina DOC. | Marsala DOC. | Menfi DOC. | Monreale DOC. | Sicilia DOC.

Yields | Catarratto’s performance in the vineyard inspired its name—the fact that it is capable of producing cataracts or copious waterfalls of wine. If planted on hillsides, acidity can be maintained while helping to develop more intense aromas and flavours.

Wine style | Often combines tropical notes–citrus, pineapple, banana peel–with herbal ones like thyme and sage.

Bibliography

See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.90-91.