Sicily, IT

When you first enter the courtyard at Martinez’ cellars on the outskirts of Marsala, and receive parking instructions from the octogenarian Domenico Martinez and his straw broom, you get more than an inkling of the soul of this treasure trove, founded in 1866 by Carlos Martinez. Here is almost the last of the true, family Marsala producers and nothing is done here in a hurry or for a quick result. They even remain a leading supplier of altar wine to the Catholic Church. This may speak as much about their survival skills in business, as to the richness of their heritage. The wines themselves are not just authentic, but fabulous, leading examples of a craft, or a series of crafts, which are slowly regaining recognition. 

The Marsalas are textbook, complex and almost always aged well beyond legal requirements for their DOC, but also clean, balanced and finishing beautifully with zip and the right grip. The Passito (dried grape) wines will surprise people with their depth and power and maybe stun for their value for money. These wines, and Martinez, are the real thing. These are wines with a sense of place.