Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé Grape: Zibbibo (Moscato di Alexandria)
Region: Sicilia DOC
Price: £39 Supplier: Liberty Wines
Why can’t we start dinners with the dessert course? Do it all in reverse. This greedy thought occurred to me as we finished the lunch with a glass of Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria at The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell.
Considered one of the “grandi vini” of Italy, Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria perfectly matched with a dessert of popcorn pannacotta with brown bread ice cream and a miso and orange caramel.
Wonderfully done, I loved the touch of wild fennel in the flower arrangement, too – this is a herb found by the sides of the road in Sicily, so very happy to see it in London (having just been in Marsala a few weeks ago).
To get to the island of Pantelleria, it’s a small-plane flight from Palermo towards the coastline of Tunisia. It’s a windy spot in the Mediterranean, with volcanic soils, which is perfect for drying and concentrating grapes. A technique called passito.
While there are many excellent sweet wines made with this technique, what sets a Passito di Pantelleria apart is the exotic Mediterranean notes and breezy freshness. It is an uplifting way to end a dinner, and certainly more upbeat than a vino di meditazione.
The lunch ended with and impromptu singing of Brazilian tunes by our host, José Rallo, owner of the Donnafugata winery. There is no better way to describe the wines than through song.