The Wines of Donnafugata

During our recent trip to Sicily I had the opportunity to visit with the team at Donnafugata Donnafugata estatesboth on the main island in Marsala and on the small and windswept island of Pantelleria.

The wines run the spectrum from fresh, aromatic whites to full-bodied reds, finishing with a selection of dessert wines made from Zibibbo.  Quality is consistent throughout the wines and the three production facilities at Contessa Entellina, Marsala and Khamma on Pantelleria.

Following are notes on three of my favorites across the range available. If you have a moment you must visit the winery’s website to see the ingenious wine and music pairings that they have created.  Proprietor Jose Rallo passionately matches music with the family’s wines, to create an experience for all of your senses. Tasting in Jazz

Anthilia labelDonnafugata, Sicilia Bianco IGP, Anthilia 2011 This wine is quite fresh, showing a Viognier-like smell of fresh peaches in the nose.  In the mouth it is soft and fruity with a light frame of acidity – a signature of long, fresh fruit.

The grapes behind this wine are primarily Catarratto and Ansonica. 12.5% and the previous vintage is still retailing for $14.99 online at  I would expect a similar price point when the new vintage becomes available in the United States.

Donnafugata, Sicilia Rosso IGP, Tancredi 2007 This wine was tasted on Donnafugata Tancredithree occasions.  The first opportunity was solo in a formal tasting at the winery.  The second and third were over two successive dinners. The Tancredi is approachable enough to enjoy solo but really pops with roasted meats and the time to see how the wine opens over two hours.  It is dense and structured with lively black fruit.  Yet the tannins are ripe and velvety making it drinkable straight away.

The grapes behind this wine are 70% Nero d’Avoloa and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the estae in Contessa Entellina. 13.5% and available for $38.74 at the Saratoga Wine Exchange.

Donnafugata KabirDonnafugata, Moscato di Pantelleria, Kabir 2010 The nose features the delight of Muscat, its orange blossoms abounding.  In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is balanced by dynamic acidity that goes on at great length. My tasting notes included this:  adult ginger ale.  I so enjoyed ginger ale as a young boy growing up in Pittsburgh.

Great Moscatos rekindle this memory for me. And this particular wine, with about 100 grams per litre residual sugar and plenty of acidity, will make a delicious pairing when we next serve fresh berries, after dinner, on a warm summer evening.

The grapes behind this wine are Zibibbo, a.k.a. Moscato d’Alessandria, grown on the windswept island of Pantelleria in higher elevation vineyards with yields of 1.62 tons per acre. Fermentation is all done in stainless and the wine is aged for 4-18 months, depending on the vintage.

During our visit to Pantelleria in early March we had the opportunity to taste the new vintage 2011 in tank, prior to bottling. The purity of the grape’s expression was just amazing. 11.5% and available at for 26.55 pounds sterling for a 750ml bottle.  Visit the winery at Donnafugata

About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
This entry was posted in Ansonica, Cabernet Sauvignon, Catarratto, Italy, Moscato di Pantelleria, Muscat, Nero d'Avola, Pantelleria, Sicilia and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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