We had an in-depth tour of the vineyards led by Antonino Santoro, Donnafugata’s winemaker. He explained the pruning methods used, the more common being the spurred cordon pruning (leaving 6 to 10 buds per plant) and pruning with Guyot training which limits the vine’s lignified growth to the trunk. The vines grow in clay loam soil, which gives the grapes their unique characteristics. A slide show is below.
The Chiarandà 2014 is made with Chardonnay grapes, whereas the 2005 and 1996 are made with Chardonnay and Ansonica grapes. The 2014 had more “fresh” fruit and was balanced with herbs and nice minerality. The 2005 was less fruity and more herb dominant. The 1996 Chiarandà had lost its edge, but there were still subtle notes of herbs and hints of muted fruit.
The Mille e una Notte is made with Nero d’Avola and a small percentage of other grapes. The 2012 has a heady bouquet of lush fruit and spice. The palate offers layers of fruit with soft tannins and a long finish. The 2008 offers fresh cherries, spice and herbs. A touch of Syrah adds the softness and Petit Verdot rounds it out with medium tannins and licorice. The 1996 Mille e una Notte was showing its age. The color was leaning towards red/rust and the nose was indiscernible but fruit was present. The palate offered soft tannins, herbs and fruit. It was very drinkable! The Ben Ryé 2008 Limited Edition is made with Zibibbo grapes and is aged at least six years in the bottle before release. This naturally sweet wine embraces the palate with apricots and floral. It is rich and elegant as all the wines were that we tasted.
Below is a slideshow of the vertical tasting and a sampling of our dinner that followed.
Below is a slide show of Pantelleria taken from plane.
Donnafugata produces high quality and elegant wines that express not only the uniqueness of the soil and climate of Sicily, but the wines also reflect the passion and dedication that goes into each bottle. I quote from their website “Every bottle of Donnafugata is a tale filled with emotion, a sensory fabric perceived in the mouth that remains in the heart and mind.”
The next time you’re in a wine shop, pick up a bottle of Donnafugata wine and pour a little “Sicily” and “magic” into your glass.