Donnafugata Ben Rye (375ML half-bottle) 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In the Italian language, Donnafugata means "fleeing woman". The story goes that in the late 19th century the Queen Maria Carolina after her flight from the court of Naples took refuge in the heart of Belice Valley in Sicily. This event inspired the image of the head of a woman, her hair tossed about by the wind and the Estate name.
Donnafugata grew out of the commitment of a family in Sicily that has always believed in the extraordinary enological potential of its land and has 150 years of experience in producing premium wines. Convinced that it is always necessary to be open to change in order to grow and improve, Giacomo Rallo and his wife, Gabriella, launched a new production project in 1983: Donnafugata. Their adventure took wing from the family’s historic cellars in Marsala and the vineyards at Contessa Entellina in the heart of western Sicily and soared as far as the island of Pantelleria.
Their children, José and Antonio, joined them and the house accelerated its march along the path of Extreme Quality: a project that focused on attention to detail, which clears the way for entrepreneurial decisions that ever more advanced objectives. As for the future, the young Gabriella and Ferdinando are already being "fully immersed" in the family’s activities.
A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.
Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on the sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.
Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieites or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected wines of the island.
Grillo and Inzolia, the grapes of Marsala, are also used to produce aromatic, crisp dry whites. Pantelleria, a subtropical island belonging to the province of Sicily, specializes in Moscato di Pantelleria, made from the variety locally known as Zibibbo.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.