Inzolia (or Ansonica) is an Italian grape variety grown in both Sicily and Tuscany. While it is most famous traditionally as an ingredient in the fortified Marsala wines, it is now seen more and more as a crisp, dry white wine, in blends and as a single variety. Inzolia wines are moderately aromatic, and tend to display nutty, citrusy characters with herbal notes.
The grape has a long and complicated history. It is thought to have originated on the island of Sicily, and is related to other Sicilian natives like Grillo and Nerello Mascalese, but other sources have argued that Inzolia is related to the Roditis and Sideritis grape varieties of Greece.
A grape that goes by the name "Irziola" is mentioned by Pliny the Elder in "Naturalis Historia", but there is no evidence to suggest this is the same variety.
Today, Inzolia is found across Sicily, particularly in Palermo and Agrigento. It is permitted as a blending grape in many of the island's DOC appellations, adding a nutty weight to wines made with Catarratto and Grillo.
Inzolia's tendancy to lose acidity late in the season means that it has long been a building block of fortified Marsala wines, but improved winemaking techniques and a change in fashions has seen Inzolia's place in Sicilian winemaking change significantly.
In Tuscany, the variety is known as Ansonica and is planted in the coastal Maremma, as well as on a small island 16km (10 miles) offshore called Giglio. It rivals Vermentino in popularity, often joining it in blends to make simple, dry white wines with good character.
Some producers in the region are making more interesting wines, using techniques such as fermenting the grapes on the skins for extra flavor, as Ansonica has unusually high levels of tannin for a white wine.
Synonyms include: Ansonica, Ansonica Bianca, Insolia, Nzolia.
Food pairings for Inzolia wines include:
- Risotto with mushrooms and walnuts
- Salmon sashimi
- Steamed clams with butter