~ Donnafugata is a driving force across Sicily ~

Donnafugata is one of the prominent driving forces on the Sicilian landscape.  From their varied vineyard holdings, this family owned winery produces an excellent array of wines.

Donnafugata owns approximately 405 hectares of land divided between four vineyard locations. Founded in 1983 by Giacomo Rallo and his wife Gabriella, the winery is principally run by Jose and Antonio, the 5th generation of Rallos.

I first wrote about the family winery back in 2020 and today’s article is an update on recent releases provided by the estate.


~ Palermo is impressive in the early evening light ~

First is, perhaps, the workhorse red from the slopes of Etna in eastern Sicily.  Sul Vulcano is predominantly Nerello Mascalese but contains a tiny portion of Nerello Capuccio.

2019 Donnafugata Sul Vulcano:  In the glass, this is a clear light cranberry red color.  Aromas of red berries and fresh flowers rise effortlessly from the glass.  On the palate, this has a powdery, white pepper streak underlining the crisp, zippy red fruit flavors.  Dusty minerals follow through and this finishes with hints of fresh herb.  Very nice but perhaps the QPR suffers a bit.  87 points.  Find this wine.


~ Sul Vulcano is mainly Nerello Mascalese with a tiny portion of Nerello Capuccio. ~

Mille e Una Notte, is a dark, mysterious, brooding monster.  In my mind, it stands alone as one of the most intriguing wines coming from Sicily.  Created in 1995 under the tutelage of Giacomo Tachis, it’s no wonder the wine sets the bar for Sicily.

2015 Donnafugata Mille e Una Notte:  1,001 nights comes from the South-Western side of the island. The grapes are hand harvested, meticulously selected and then spend about 15 months in French barrique before being bottled aged 24 months before release.  The wine is predominantly Nero d’Avola but contains percentages of Petit Verdot and Syrah.

In the glass, it’s an inky, blackish purple.  The wonderful aromatics lead to blue flowers, crushed black cherry, leather and vanilla.  It’s beautiful to smell.  On the palate, this is full bodied and masculine with deep black fruit flavors, toasted spices, vanilla and smoke.  Really, this needs cellaring.  But with slow roasted meat or pasta with a hearty ragu, it can shine now.  95 points.  Find this wine.

~ There’s always an air of mystique surrounding this wine ~

Finally, it was time for dessert.  The package I received included some estate made chocolates and a small bag of dried Zibibbo grapes; the protagonist of the next wine.   They were sweet like ruby raisins.

2019 Donnafugata Ben Rye:  This passito di Pantelleria is 100% Zibibbo – also called Moscato di Alessandria.   The caramel color is eye catching and lustrous.  On the nose, there are intense aromas of candied orange, honey, peaches, white flowers and cardamom.  In the mouth, this medium bodied wine carries fresh acidity, honeysuckle notes, peaches in honey and flowery, candied citrus.  This is very complex and well made and has the balance to age gracefully.  Yet, this isn’t my style of dessert wine.  I much prefer the caramel, almond paste, brown sugar and orange rind notes that Vin Santo brings. This reminds me of Quarts de Chaume or Sauternes.  Still, this will be incredibly compelling for those who like the style.  In that vein – 95 points and enjoy!  Find this wine.


~ The color is somewhat of an outlier here. It portends a more Vin Santo like performance, but the profile here is more one of Sauternes ~

We will have another Heritage Series coming up featuring the newest releases from Feudo Maccari; so stay tuned.


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