Inside the famous novel by Baron Guseppe Tommasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo, there is the legend of the escape of the Queen Bianca di Navarre from a Sicilian castle where she was held prisoner by the Count of Cabrera, who intended to rule in his stead over the Kingdom of Sicily. It is from the story of this escape that the Donnafugata winery was founded in 1983 thanks to the initiative of Giacomo Rallo and his wife Gabriella, a curious and erudite woman, fascinated by the aforementioned story. Despite its relative youth, it should be said that the winery could already count on the experience of the Rallo family, engaged in the viticulture of the island for 160 years, experience that today has passed into the hands of José and Antonio Rallo, sons of the founders.
The consciousness of such a rich and important past has meant that today Donnafugata is one of the most important wineries in Sicily, a winery that carries on a series of initiatives ranging at 360 degrees from viticulture to artistic promotion to joint venture with the most established fashion designers. Remaining to the wine-producing side, for example, this reality has long been engaged in clean and ecological viticulture projects decidedly innovative. The abandonment of chemistry in the vineyard, accompanied by an integrated control and control of insects in the vineyard thanks to natural traps and pheromones, are combined with green manure, organic fertilization and a computerized fight against the excessive use of water, oxygen and electricity. Even in the cellar it was decided to use lighter glass bottles and caps with zero CO2 emissions in addition, of course, to the same reduction in energy use practiced in the vineyard. A special mention goes to the experimental vineyard set up in Contessa Entellina (in the south-western area of Sicily), a vingeto in which 19 different indigenous varieties of the island are planted, divided into 30 biotypes, with the aim of identifying the best species for each type of soil.
In the area of Contessa Entellina itself, at a height between 200 and 400 meters above sea level, was born one of the most famous wines of the winery, Tancredi, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Nero d’Avola, with a small balance of Tannat and other red berried grapes. The planting density of the vineyard varies between 4500 and 6000 vines per hectare, and each hectare produces 50 to 60 quintals of grapes, with a yield per plant of about one kilogram. After a first selection in the plant and a careful manual harvest, the grapes arrive in the cellar where they face a second selection of the bunches and, finally, a selection of the individual grapes. Once pressed, the grapes ferment and macerate in steel, at a controlled temperature (28-30 ºC), then age in new and second-pass barriques for 12-14 months and finally in the bottle for the same period of time.
The 2017 vintage shows an intense and concentrated ruby red color, with an olfactory range that opens on notes of cooked plum, creme de cassis, black cherry in spirit and vanilla, followed by wild blackberry, prickly pear, pot pourri of violet and Mediterranean scrub, with final echoes of leather, dark tobacco and cabinet-making. The palate is mainly soft even if never excessive, also thanks to a pleasant iodine and balsamic component, with a hint of black pepper and elegant and tight tannins; all enriched by the return of the overripe red fruit and spices that accompany the sip to a closure of excellent length.
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