Italian Women in Wine – Cantina Marilina #ItalianFWT

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Bloggers Celebrate Italian Wine Women
Our session this month is celebrating the many wineries with women in leadership positions, either in the vineyard, the winery or the business office (or all three in some cases). Scroll down further in this post for 14 more great ideas for women-led Italian wineries!

Cantina Marilina in Sicily
My choice was serendipitously made for me in Zipps Liquors a few weeks ago. I stopped in while in the neighborhood to browse for something new. Lucky for me, the staff had thoughtfully placed notes around the store regarding women winemakers, and I had several new choices before me in the Italian Wines section. Comparing my options, I found a skin-fermented white wine by a woman winemaker, imported by Zev Rovine. Zev imports low intervention and natural wines and I’ve found I can trust his choices. (Here’s a post from another of his wineries, also woman-led).

Cantina Marilina was started by Angelo Paternò in 2001 after serving in multiple winemaking positions for others. Organic from the beginning, the property is managed in polyculture, with only about half the land planted to grapes. They focus mainly on local varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Grecanico and Moscato. Their cellar work follows their vineyard approach, using natural materials and minimal interventions.  In recent years, daughters Marilina and Federica have taken over all day to day operations with Angelo available for advice.

If you find yourself in Sicily (I hope to do so sometime!) you can visit Cantina Marilina, they’ll be happy to host you!.

The rich color comes from 13 hours of pre-fermentation maceration where the juice is in contact with the skins of the grapes.

Cantina Marilina Sikele Grecanico Bianco IGP Terre Siciliane ($19 Zipps Liquors or online here)
The vineyard is sited on calcareous soil with organic farming and hand harvesting. The wine’s color, aromas and flavors are produced with a 13 hour pre-fermentaion maceration before the grapes are pressed off the skins. Fermentation is in concrete with indigenous yeast followed by 6 months aging in concrete and 3 months in bottle. The wines are bottled with minimal sulfites.

Eye: Clear, medium orange
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Nose is cidery initially. Aromas of dried apricots, beeswax, cooking spices – cinnamon, nutmeg.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity. Flavors follow the nose with dried apricots, spices, a definite saline impression. Medium+ lip smacking acidity, medium- fine grained tannins. medium+ body, medium alchol. Medium+ finish with lingering saline note with apricots. Rich texture clearly indicates wine spent time on the skins.
Conclusions: Very good quality skin-fermented white wine. Rich texture with plenty of fruit and lively acidity balanced with a nice rich texture. Can certainly drink now, the wine has the structure and fruit intensity to age. The wine had plenty of body to pair with the grilled swordfish with fennel/tomato agrodolce.

A fine meal anytime, we grill year round at our house!

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The agrodolce adds a nice sweet/sour bite to the fish

Grilled Swordfish with Tomato Fennel Agrodolce Paired with Cantina Marilina “Sikele”
As a big, ocean going fish, swordfish can easily be paired with full bodied white wines or lighter bodied red wines.  Add skin-fermented white wines to your list for swordfish! The time on skins gives the wine additional texture and deeper flavors, pairing nicely with the grilled swordfish steak. The piquant agrodolce adds another nice acidic bite to the plate and complements the wine as well.

Grilled Swordfish with Tomato Fennel Agrodolce

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite Italian restaurants’ coffee table cookbook: A16 Food + Wine. Agrodolce is a sweet and sour condiment and it comes in a staggering number of forms. The key is to combine sweetness with a vinegary bite. The A16 version gains its’ sweetness from the sauteed onion and fennel; it has no added sugar.


  • 2 lbs. swordfish steaks
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored and diced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 5 whole allspice, crushed
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 16 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved.
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper as needed


  • Heat the EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat
  • Add the onion, fennel, fennel seeds, and allspice. Gently saute the vegetables until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar and stir, deglazing the pan, cook until the vinegar has evaporated.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are heated through and the skins split.
  • Remove from heat.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
  • Serve the agrodolce warm or cool (warm seems to fit in Minnesota in March)
  • Meanwhile, prepare the grill for high, direct heat.
  • Lightly salt and pepper the swordfish
  • Grill the swordfish, I use the 10 minutes (total) per inch of thickness rule.
  • Serve the fish with the agrodolce and your choice of sides. We grilled a variety of vegetables.

12 Responses to “Italian Women in Wine – Cantina Marilina #ItalianFWT”
  1. culinarycam says:

    This looks amazing, Jeff! I can’t wait to track down a bottle and try your recipe!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Love the color in this wine! I too would love to get to Sicily one of these days. And always appreciate your commitment to year round grilling! Swordfish is one thing I almost never have if it isn’t grilled.

  3. We eat a lot of swordfish when we’re in Florida; can’t wait to try your recipe!

  4. joyofwine says:

    Photos look awesome Jeff! I too, grill year round, last night even wearing my Birkenstocks in the snow! LOL! Where are you finding fresh swordfish?

  5. wendyklik says:

    Oh my goodness Jeff, your plate looks awesome and your pairing sounds amazing.

  6. Lynn says:

    It’s nice to read your local wine shop noting women winemakers, I assume highlighting International Women’s Day. What a score with this wine! We just got a small grill, look forward to grilling swordfish and trying with a skin fermented white, your recipe noted.

  7. A skin-fermented white with swordfish sounds divine! Would love to try this pairing whenever we get a new grill – maybe this summer!

  8. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    The wine sounds amazing and with a great story. That agrodolce on the grilled bread looks amazing!

  9. Jen Martin says:

    That dish looks perfect to welcome the warm days to come soon.

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