Not just labels, Incredible Artworks!

Hello again 

First blog for 2019.

Labels…. I see and hear about people buying wines all of the time because of the labels. Its obviously a great marketing tool at a certain price point to distinguish one wine from another on extremely crowded and competitive supermarket shelves to make them stand out.

Of course some of them are good, no, some of them are even great wines however more often than not at a certain low price point the label is truly the best thing about the wine!

HOWEVER…….

This is not always the case, but you do need to research your wines a little before you are just buying “that shiraz” or “that Chardonnay” because of the cool label.

Which brings me on to, in my opinion the masters of the modern art wine labelling, but I hasten to add also fabulous wine makers.

Logo-Completo-Sicily.jpg
The image of the woman’s face with the wind swept hair for their company logo is that of Gabriella Rallo the “Donna-Fugata” (woman in flight)

 

There have been many blogs, published articles about Donnafugata, but I thought I would take a slightly different slant and concentrate on the superb labels and artwork. These are not just well labelled bottles to sell the wine, its about the story, the passione! and of course great winemaking. I have included all of the tech info, tasting notes and  pairing ideas for each wine from Donnafugata too.

The name Donnafugata refers to the novel by Tomasi di Lampedusa entitled Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). A name that means “donna in fuga” (woman in flight) and refers to the story of a queen who found refuge in the part of Sicily where the company’s vineyards are located today. An adventure that inspired the corporate logo: the image of a woman’s head with windblown hair that dominates every bottle. Donnafugata labels are also works of art created or inspired by Gabriella Rallo, as are the names of the wines, and homage to art and literature.

 

df_mappaeitalia-en
Donnafugata are from Sicily & the Island of Pantelleria, which is about half way between Sicily & the north African coast of Tunisia.

 

Giacomo and Gabriella Rallo created Donnafugata in 1983, and were then joined in the business in 1990 by their children José and Antonio. They are one of (if not) the most successful wineries, internationally, from Sicily.

 

01_la-famiglia_ph-fabio-gambina (1)
Giacomo (who very sadly passed away in 2016), Jose, Gabriella & Antonio Rallo

Before you start to explore the wines and the serious ART (wine bottle labels) here are a few images from my visit to Donnafugata. If you are visiting Sicily make sure you contact them for a tour and a tasting…. you will not be disappointed. I had emailed them and arranged for exactly this. Laura was an absolute delight and extremely knowledgeable and passionate about all aspects of the winery. 

 

Winery in Marsala, Western Sicily.

The Ranges of wines in Catagories

The Barrel room cellar is a literally a Cathedral of Wine, wines calmly resting, waiting patiently to one day provide lots of wine joy to all of us!

You need to visit to experience the true expression of Art and wine.

So on to the wines and the labels.

There are 21 wines currently in the range, all of them below. They also have grappa and olive oil too.

Yes 21 wines below… IT IS WORTH THE READ! I promise! These are fabulous wines and labels. 

img_1667
Stephano Vitale

“Donnafugata are a homage to art and literature. Unique and inimitable, they represent a way of being, a style. Inspired by Gabriella Rallo they are designed by Stefano Vitale, an exceptional artist with a unique stroke, capable of making the personality of each wine shine”

White Wines.

Prio

An autochthonous single variety with marked scents of citrus

Prio 2017 has a brilliant straw yellow color. The nose offers a fragrant bouquet with marked citrus scents of grapefruit and citron combined with notes of Mediterranean scrub. The palate is fresh and perfectly reflects the nose.

Food & wine

Perfect when paired with raw fish, mixed fried fish, stir fry veggies.

Excellent at 9 – 11°C/48 – 52°F°

Denomination

Sicilia DOC Catarratto

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

prio

Label & Original artwork. 

Joy, happiness, this is the meaning of prio in Sicilian dialect. It is the unexpected and authentic joy of a woman, sitting on a beach at sunset on a day in early summer, sweetly kissed by a butterfly that lands on her face. A lively and sensual label like the Catarratto signed Donnafugata

Stefano Vitale, the author

 


Anthìlia

The most enjoyed Donnafugata wine in the world

Anthilia 2018 has a straw yellow color. The nose presents a fresh and fruity bouquet with notes of white-fleshed fruits (apple) combined with scents of wildflowers. On the palate we find the evident fruity note again, refreshed by agreeable sapidity. It finishes with good persistence.

Food & wine

Perfect when paired with tomato and basil bruschetta, seafood pasta, blue fish. Try also with cesar salad.

Excellent at 9 – 11 °C/48 – 51°F°

Denomination

Sicilia DOC White

Grapes

  • Catarratto
  • the predominant variety; the blend is complemented by other autochthonous and international varieties

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

anthilia_con_etichetta
Label & Original artwork.

The label depicts the face of a woman, mysterious and fleeting like the Elymian civilization. Anthilìa is the name given to the city of Entella on the top of the Rocca in Roman times. Today, Anthìlia is the name of a win that is identified with the ancient territory where it has its roots. It is the first wine to have been conceived at Donnafugata and still remains to this day in the hearts of many admirers.

Stefano Vitale, the author  


Lighea

An aromatic Mediterranean white

Lighea 2017 has a brilliant straw yellow color with greenish reflections. The nose offers a rich and fragrant bouquet with classic notes of orange blossom combined with citrusy scents (citron, bergamot) and nuances of Mediterranean scrub. The nose is perfectly reflected on the palate, enlivened by a fresh mineral vein.

Food & wine

Recommended with all types of oily fish, baked pasta in white sauce, fried fish.

Excellent at 9 – 11°C/48 – 52°F°

Denomination

Zibibbo Sicilia DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Island of Pantelleria (South-Western Sicily)

Lighea.png
Label & Original artwork. 

“From the disheveled tresses the color of the sun, seawater flowed over the green, wide-open eyes.” Thus Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa describes Lighea, the bewitching siren and principal figure in his novel. She has inspired the creation of a complex and innovative wine and an equally original label. “It was not easy to print this label”, Gabriella (founder of Donnafugata, with her husband Giacomo) recalled, “and preserve the thousand shadings of colors of Pantelleria Island, painted in the original drawing.”

Stefano Vitale, the author


Sul Vulcano Etna Bianco

A small production, with great mineral elegance.

Elegant notes of aromatic herbs, citrus fruits and flint. Fresh and savory, Sul Vulcano 2016 presents fine notes of aromatic herbs, citrus fruit and flint. In the mouth it is embracing, fresh and savoury, characterized by distinctive minerality and remarkable persistence. A wine of great elegance and complexity.

Food & wine

Perfect with crustaceans, vegetarian first courses and porcini mushrooms.

Excellent at 10-12°

Denomination

Etna Bianco DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Eastern Sicily, north side of Etna

sulvulcano
Label & Original artwork. 

A goddess-volcano stands out on the Etna Bianco label by Donnafugata “Sul Vulcano”. Its intense colors, red, yellow, iridescent blacks, are those of the highest active volcano in Europe. An ancient, powerful and feminine deity: “the Mountain” as Etna is called by the locals. “Sul Vulcano” is a declaration of love: a pure wine with a marked minerality that makes you breathe the energy of this unique place located in the center of the Mediterranean.

Stefano Vitale, the author


La Fuga

The Chardonnay from the night harvest

Brilliant straw yellow, La Fuga 2017 offers a fragrant bouquet with notes of tropical fruit (pineapple) and white peach, combined with floral scents. In the mouth it amazes with its intense sapidity combined with a pleasant vein of acidity.

Food & wine

It matches well with Risottos, herbed chicken, savoury pies and fish second course.

Excellent at 10 – 12°C/50 – 54°F°

Denomination

Contessa Entellina Doc Chardonnay Sicilia

Grapes

  • Chardonnay

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

fuga
Label & Original artwork. 

Gabriella Anca Rallo (founder of Donnafugata, with her husband Giacomo) thought of “fleeing” and beginning a new life, passing from the arts to the land. Gabriella is a woman with the wind in her hair who is never at rest. Gabriella invented La Fuga, a label that not only suggests movement but also sunshine and the land.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Vigna di Gabri

The cru wanted by Gabriella Rallo

Vigna di Gabri 2017 has a brilliant straw yellow color with light green reflections. The bouquet is intense and goes from floral scents (elder and acacia) to notes of white fleshed fruits (peach) combined with hints of Mediterranean maquis. The palate is enlivened by a fresh savory streak. A fine and elegant white, with an intriguing personality and surprising longevity.

Food & wine

Perfect when paired with seafood pasta, flans, baked fish.

Excellent at 10 – 12°C/50 – 54°F°

Denomination

Sicilia DOC

Grapes

  • Ansonica
  • blended with
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Viognier

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

vignadigabri-con-etichetta.png
Label & Original artwork.

“Vigna di Gabri” is not a fantasy name, because the wine bears the name of Gabriella (founder of Donnafugata, with her husband Giacomo), who originally wanted to create it and strongly believed in the full flavored fragrance of Ansonica. The graphics, already renewed on the occasion of the wine’s 25th Anniversary, with the 2017 vintage, pick up and emphasize some elements present in the original illustration by Stefano Vitale: a master-label that tells the link between Gabri and her Cru. The introduction of the Burgundy bottle also wants to enhance the preciousness and elegance of this wine which is one of Donnafugata’s most beloved wines.

Stefano Vitale, the author

 


ChiarandĂ 

A Chardonnay with a Mediterranean soul, elegant and long-lived

Chiarandà 2016 has a straw yellow color. The nose offers a complex bouquet with scents of fresh tropical fruit, aromatic herbs, and toasted hazelnuts. The palate is ample and well-structured, with pleasant savoury notes and a long mineral finish. An important white with a long and satisfying persistence and great aging potential.

Food & wine

Perfect with lobster, cream of vegetable soup and smoked fish, we suggest it also with roast quail.

Excellent at 11 – 13°C/52 – 55°F)°

Denomination

Contessa Entellina DOC Chardonnay

Grapes

  • Chardonnay

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

chiaranda-3.jpg
Label & Original artwork.

The wine made its debut in 1992 as ChiarandĂ  del Merlo from the names of the two vineyards where the Ansonica and Chardonnay grapes were grown. Ten years later the name has been simplified to ChiarandĂ  and the label has been enriched with a female figure that suggests complexity and refinement.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Sparkling Wines.

Donnafugata Brut 2013

A metodo classico with surprising elegance

Marked by a mild winter, with good rainfall (767 mm of rainfall, a slightly higher figure compared to seasonal averages), which was followed by a cool, ventilated spring.

Food & wine

Pleasant for an aperitivo, excellent paired with finger food, seared scallops, sole meunière.

Excellent at 6 – 8°C/42 – 46°F°

Denomination

Vino Spumate Sicilia DOC

Grapes

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

brutmillesimato.jpg

Donnafugata Brut Rosè

Vintage rosè with a pleasant delicacy and structure

Marked by a mild winter, with good rainfall (767 mm of rainfall, a slightly higher figure compared to seasonal averages), which was followed by a cool, ventilated spring.

Food & wine

A rosé table wine, excellent with raw or cooked crustaceans and fish tartare. We recommend it with thinly sliced prosciutto crudo San Daniele.

Excellent at 6 – 8°C/42 – 46°F°

Denomination

Vino Spumate Sicilia DOC

Grapes

  • Pinot Noir

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

brutrosecorretta
Label & Original artwork.

An elegant woman, her face lit with a slight smile… how can we not help thinking of Mona Lisa or Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci and the many Italian portraits of women in the 1500s. A perfect balance of the elements, including, art, culture, nature. Compared with the very elegant original sketch, made on a wooden board, we just added a few touches of gold foil into the perlage, as beams of light that let us predict all the fine liveliness of its content.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Rosé Wines.

Lumera

An unconventional rosè, the fruit of a targeted selection of red grapes

Brilliant pink, Lumera 2017 offers an ample and fragrant bouquet with fruity notes of wild strawberries and pomegranate combined with delicate flowery scents of violets. The palate is fresh and savory with good structure and pleasant persistence of fruity notes.

Food & wine

Match with hot and cold seafood antipasti, raw seafood (especially crustaceans) and first courses based on vegetables. We also recommend it with fried fish, fresh cheeses and second courses of roasted fish.

Excellent at 10 – 12°C/50 – 53°F°

Denomination

Sicilia DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

lumera.jpg
Label & Original artwork.

Lumera is an evocative name, in full Donnafugata style. It’s the beloved woman, the sublime being who inspires joy and fullness of life. It’s the woman portrayed on the label, it’s the wine that bears her name. Lumera is the protagonist of a Sicilian poem that celebrates courtly love and experiments a form, the Dolce Stil Novo, which decidedly anticipates the Italian language. “Or come pote sì grande donna intrare / Per gli occhi mei, che sì piccioli son? / e nel mio core come pote stare […], ma voglio a lei Lumera asomigliare […]

Stefano Vitale, the author


Red Wines.

Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso

A surprising volcanic red

Light ruby red, Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso DOC offers an elegant bouquet with notes of wild berries (strawberry and red currant) and flowery scents, along with delicate spicy nuances of cinnamon and nutmeg. Perfect harmony between aroma and taste, with good freshness and harmonious tannins. A long, balanced finish.

Food & wine

Perfect with mediterranean antipasti and first courses based on eggplant or mushrooms, meat and roast stew. Pairing options are numerous: from North-American cuisine (chicken wings, hamburgers) to moderate spicy Asian dishes (beef stir-fried, dumplings) to fusion cuisine like Tex-Mex based on meat and beans.

Excellent at 18°

Denomination

Etna Rosso DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Eastern Sicily, north side of Etna

SulVulcano-EtnaRosso-1.png
Label & Original artwork.

A goddess-volcano stands out on the label. Its intense colors, red, yellows, iridescent blacks, are those of the highest active volcano in Europe. An ancient, powerful and feminine deity: “the Mountain” as Etna is called by the locals. “Sul Vulcano” is a declaration of love: a pure wine, fragrant and elegant, that lets you breathe the energy of this unique place located in the center of the Mediterranean.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Fragore

The Etna cru, volcanic elegance

Pale ruby red coloured, Fragore presents an ample and profound bouquet featuring spices (sweet tobacco and nutmeg), floral notes (violet) and wild berries merging with mineral (flint stone) and balsamic notes.  On the palate it reveals extraordinary complexity and elegance characterized by outstanding minerality and important tannins. Remarkable long finish.

Food & wine

Legumes, mushrooms and tasty meats. Fragore perfectly matches turkey and barbecue ribs. Try it also with Asian food as Peking duck, beef and pork hot pots.

Excellent at 18 °C°

Denomination

Etna Rosso DOC – Contrada Montelaguardia

Grapes

Production zone

Eastern Sicily, north side of Etna

fragore-con-etichetta
Label & Original artwork.

Donnafugata is “projected” towards the future, like an object launched into space, attracted by invisible gravities. Illustrator Stefano Vitale captures this perpetual motion perfectly in the latest label of Fragore that represents the volcano’s roar. Donnafugata continues its journey towards the most remote corners of Sicily: east to Vittoria and then up to the highest point on the island, on the Etna volcano.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Bell’Assai

A fragrant red that amazes with its immediate pleasantness.

Brilliant ruby red with violet reflections, Bell’Assai offers a fragrant bouquet with intense flowery notes of violets and roses combined with scents of fresh red fruit (strawberries and raspberries). In the mouth it surprises with its great freshness, a perfect harmony between aroma and taste, supported by soft tannins. A fragrant red that amazes with its immediate pleasantness.

Food & wine

We suggest it with salumi, tasty fish dishes such as soups or guazzetti, try with tuna sushi.

Excellent at 16°C (60°F)°

Denomination

Vittoria DOC Frappato Sicilia

Grapes

Production zone

South-Western Sicily-Vittoria

bellassai
Label & Original artwork.

Bell’Assai is a girl with personality who offers to the sweet Sicilian breeze the fruits of the vineyards and the scents of the countryside. She represents the spirit of those enterprising families with the love for beauty which have always been animating the territory of Vittoria. An artistic label with which Donnafugata wants to celebrate the love for the beautiful.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Floramundi

A refined Cerasuolo di Vittoria with a flowery soul

Intense ruby red with brilliant purple reflections; it offers intense fruity aromas, black cherry and plum notes stand out; the bouquet opens with delicate flowery nuances and characteristic spicy notes of black pepper. The palate is supported by freshness and softness that make it juicy and a real pleasure to drink. Fine and well integrated tannins. Floramundi 2017 expresses the harmonious balance Cerasuolo di Vittoria can achieve.

Food & wine

Tasty first courses, grilled meat, important fish baked in the oven. Try with pulled pork and meat dumplings.

Excellent at 15- 16°C (59-61°F)°

Denomination

Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG

Grapes

Production zone

South-Western Sicily-Vittoria

floramundi
Label & Original artwork.

Floramundi is a fantastic figure of a woman who is giving the gift of wonderful interlacements of flowers and fruits with velvety tones. It is a dialogue between two souls, the elegant and sophisticated one of Floral Liberty, of which Vittoria is rich in testimonies, and the fascinating and suggestive one of the tradition of the Pupi Siciliani  (Sicilian Puppets). A dialogue between Nero d’Avola and Frappato to listen to with pleasure. A refined artistic label for a prestigious denomination: Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Sherazade

The red you don’t expect, ideal for the aperitivo

Sherazade 2017 has a brilliant ruby red color with violet reflections. The nose offers a pleasantly fruity bouquet with fragrant notes of red plum and cherry, combined with light spicy scents. The palate is fleshy and perfectly reflects the bouquet revealing an extraordinary freshness. The well-integrated tannin, completes this fragrant and pleasant wine.

Food & wine

We suggest it with fish soup, pizza or classic tomato spaghetti.

Excellent at 15 – 16°C/59 – 61°F°

Denomination

Sicilia DOC Nero d’Avola

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

sherazade
Label & Original artwork.

Sherazade, fascinating female protagonist of the Arabian Nights has a fruity flesh voice, wrapped in a spicy drape, that tells you the fairy tale of this masterpiece of Oriental literature. An intensely Mediterranean label in lush Donnafugata style that gives you an unforgettable tasting.

Stefano Vitale, the author


SedĂ ra

A glass of quality, perfect for everyday drinking

Ruby red, SedĂ ra 2016 offers a fruity bouquet with scents of blackberries and blueberries combined with a light spicy note of black pepper. The palate displays good structure with suave tannins and pleasant freshness. A soft red, versatile for food pairing, perfect for every day.

Food & wine

Serve with lasagne, chicken cacciatora, BBQ, seared tuna.

Excellent at 16 – 18°C/61 – 64°F°

Denomination

Red Sicilia Doc

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

sedara-con-etichetta.png
Label & Original artwork.

Dedicated to the irresistible and ambitious Angelica Sedàra with green eyes, the fashinatig Claudia Cardinale, protagonist of the film “Il Gattopardo” (The Leopard) directed by Luchino Visconti. The label, also in the new version, refers to the Contessa Entellina winer

Stefano Vitale, the author


Angheli

A soft red with an international taste

Ruby red, Angheli 2015 is characterized by an enchanting bouquet with notes of red fruits, blackberries and plums, combined with intense balsamic and spicy scents of chocolate and liquorice. Fragrant on the palate with soft tannins. It finishes with good persistence. A red with an international taste with great balance between structure and pleasantness.

Food & wine

Perfect when paired with charcuterie board, meatball in tomato sauce grilled meat and chops.

Excellent at 16 – 18°C/ 60 – 64°F°

Denomination

Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Sicilia Doc

Grapes

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

angheli
Label & Original artwork.

“… of loves and ladies, knights and arms…”. Would that be Angelica of Orlando Furioso fleeing on the horse portrayed on the label? Donnafugata has many “women in flight;” each of these has a past of history and tradition but, for sure, a future of softness and seduction.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Tancredi

An elegant red. An affordable luxury

Deep ruby red, Tancredi 2015 is characterized by a fragrant bouquet with notes of red fruit (cherry and plum) combined with delicate tertiary scents of sweet tobacco, chocolate and spices (black pepper). In the mouth it offers a structure with important and well-integrated tannins. An enveloping and persistent finish.

Food & wine

It will find its best pairing T-bone steak, gourmet burgers and game. Delicious also with beef Stroganoff
with mushrooms.

Excellent at 18°C/64°F°

Denomination

Terre Siciliane IGT

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

tancredi-con-etichetta
Label & Original artwork.

If you remember Alain Delon in the famous movie that Luchino Visconti made from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, you will see that this wine reflects the elegance and ambition of that “revolutionary” man. With the vintage 2015, the labels offers a new illustration by artist Stefano Vitale who has dedicated this artwork to Giacomo Rallo, visionary captain of Donnafugata. The winery of Contessa Entellina is always there, in the clouds, almost like a mirage. In the upper right, the beloved village of Sambuca di Sicilia where some of the vineyards contribute to the blend of Tancredi. All the places where the memory of this man remains indelible and where his dreams have become reality.

Stefano Vitale, the author

 


Mille e Una Notte

An icon of Italian excellence

Intense ruby red colored, Mille e una Notte 2015 is characterized by an ample bouquet, with fruity notes (blackberry and black mulberry) and balsamic (liquorice) and spicy scents followed by hints of cacao. The palate is soft and embracing, surprising with an extraordinary silky tannin. A remarkable long persistence on the finish.

Food & wine

We suggest it with Slow-cooked rack of lamb, pappardelle with pork ragout, roasts, tournedos Rossini.

Excellent at 18°C/64°F°

Denomination

Red Sicilia Doc

Grapes

Production zone

Contessa Entellina Estate and Nearby Areas

milleeunanotte.jpg
Label & Original artwork.

The palace illustrated on the label is Palazzo Filangeri di Cutò where Queen Maria Carolina took refuge fleeing from Naples, the house lovedby the writer Tomasi di Lampedusa.

Gabriella captures the image and embeds it into a “Mille e una Notte” sky. A tribute to the masterpiece of oriental literature capable of recounting a thousand and one tales.

img_1658


Sweet Wines.

Kabir

A very pleasant naturally sweet wine

Bight straw yellow with golden reflections, Kabir 2017 is characterized by a rich and fragrant bouquet with scents of ripe fruit (nectarines) combined with flowery notes of orange blossom and delicate savoury nuances. The nose is perfectly reflected on the palate, combined with a fresh mineral vein that balances the pleasant sweetness well. A good persistence on the finish revealing hints of pink pepper and nutmeg.

Food & wine

Perfect with anchovies, goat’s cheese, ice cream and fruit-based desserts.

Excellent at 12°C/54°F°

Denomination

Moscato di Pantelleria DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Island of Pantelleria (South-Western Sicily)

kabir.jpg
Label & Original artwork.

From the Arabic term “The Great,” this is the name Donnafugata chose for its Moscato di Pantelleria, for its broad and noble perfumes. The label speaks the language of the island, expressing the colors, the freshness and the aromatic richness of Zibibbo. A label evoking the heroic soul of the viticulture of an island battered by wind and waves.

Stefano Vitale, the author


Ben Ryè

One of the most appreciated sweet Italian wines in the world

Ben Ryé 2016 offers an extraordinary rich bouquet with outstanding aromas obtained from the dried grapes: apricots and candied orange peel. It presents delicate hints of Mediterranean macchia. The palate is very fresh and intense, balancing perfectly the sweetness followed by a long and satisfying persistence.

Food & wine

It matches with caramelized duck, foie gras and blue cheeses. It goes well with pastries and gourmet chocolate like gianduja. Extraordinary alone, as a meditation wine.

Excellent at 14°C/57°F°

Denomination

Passito di Pantelleria DOC

Grapes

Production zone

Island of Pantelleria (South-Western Sicily)

benrye-2.jpg
Label & Original artwork.

From the Arabic term “Son of the Wind” because the wind sweeps constantly around the grape clusters on Pantelleria. And the island’s winds bring with them a profusion of fragrances so powerful that you can touch them. An author label telling the love, the care and the effort of heroic viticulture on an island unique and fascinating. A fresh and enchanting portrait that reveals its essence.

Stefano Vitale, the author

 

I know this has been quite a long piece but thought I really needed to give Donnafugata justice as ALL of their wines have amazing labels. I hope some are of you are still reading at this stage!!

I have no affiliation to the winery and I am not being paid for writing this piece.

I am good friends with Donnafugata and they always send me a great box of wine for Christmas, and the least I can do is give them a huge shout out for their stunning wines and a bit of info into the labels, the passion and the wines.

They are much more than labels, they are an expression of the wine from the family, terroir, the artist and of course the wine itself.

They are a large international brand and you should be able to buy in most markets locally. Please take the time and try some Donnafugata.

INFO:

Donnafugata : https://www.donnafugata.it/en/the-company/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonnafugataWine

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donnafugatawine/

Credits:

All photos are my own or from the Donnafugata website or from the book “Inseguendo Donnafugata” an amazing book they also sent me at Christmas.

If you would like to visit Donnafugata please follow his link: https://visit.donnafugata.it/en-us/

 

 

Astley Vineyard- Worcestershire- Part 3 WineGB🇬🇧

Hi again…… I know 3 blogs in a week! and there is more next week too.

Astley vineyard is actually the closest vineyard to my home in Worcestershire. (40 mins south of the UK’s 2nd city Birmingham)

When I started to taste more English still wines at trade events I really had to go and visit Astley as they are 15 minutes from my house. I spoke with them on twitter for a while and then about 7 months ago in Jan 2018 I visited for the first time. I haven’t written about them until now because there were big plans afoot at Astley which will all come clear in this blog.

IMG_4889
January 14th 2018, pruning in progress by Mum – BEV!

History:

Astley used to be the most northerly vineyard in the WORLD! When it was established in the Severn Valley, Worcestershire, in 1971.

The terroir for this part of Worcestershire where the vineyard is planted is Triassic Sandstone and about 200 million years old (ish) this provides excellent drainage and a naturally high acidity in the wines also.

The vineyard is on an east facing slope located by a deep valley which draws away cold air, 1/2 mile away from the river Severn which also moderates the micro climate.

Below is a geo map of the county. Sandstone was used for many of the old buildings in the county too. 

IMG_8205

IMG_8206

The original founders, the Bache family, planted varieties such as Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe decades before its potential in England was realised. Many of these vines still stand – including their unique 46 year old Kerner – providing ASTLEY now with almost unrivalled maturity and heritage. There is also Pinot Noir, used for blending and some chardonnay……. which is used for nothing as it never ripens enough! It is being replaced in the not to distant future.

IMG_4891
Clearing and managing the woodland has been a big task too!

Jonty Daniels who was a bit of a legend amongst small English wine producers owned  the vineyard for over 24 years, and  retired in July 2017.

He wasn’t going to sell to just anybody, they had to have the same vision & values for the little estate that he had. So in 2017 the Haywood family bought the vineyard and moved in,  July 17′. 

There are 5 Haywood’s in the Family that are involved passionately in this new venture/adventure.

Dad & Owner:  Tim. Each time I have visited Tim is super busy getting his hands dirty and really getting stuck into every job on the estate. A far cry I’m sure from his past life as a Financial Director in the City.

Mum:  Bev. The first time I met Bev she was pruning the vines in Jan. On their website it describes Bev as the lynch pin holding it all together. Bev if you are anything like my mother & I am sure that you are. We would all be lost without our Mums.

Son:  Chris. Chris exudes passion for this project! A great guy and like the whole family 100% committed every day to anything that the vineyard requires. He spent 2 years at a luxury wine shop and is WSET Level 3 qualified, Chris is Astley’s wine man.

The Finnish Wife of Chris: Matleena, who is the business manager and accounts dept.

Daughter: Daisy. Resident Landscape Architect and artist. Daisy lends her creative eye to projects and looks after the estate woodland and gardens.

Plans.

The previous owner Jonty always had the wine made at a large commercial vineyard but the Haywood’s have other plans completely. They want control over the whole process. 

The first part of this I saw a few months ago, in early May, where the foundations for the new winery & the new tasting room & shop were getting underway.

IMG_6498
Under Construction winery and Tasting room April/May 2018

Everything has changed at Astley…… well except for the vines!. Their new Astley branding for the business together with their new beautiful bottle labels are a credit to them. A collaboration with the very talented team at Wearebeard, based in Worcester. In fact I must get in touch with them to get new pietrovini branding!

AstleyLogo_Horizontal_DarkGreen_RGB
Love their new LOGO with corkscrew incorporated.

New nature inspired labels incorporating the wildlife around the vineyard. Please click on any of the bottles above to get much larger image. It will open a new page.

So now in July, just a few short months after the start of new buildings, the new shop and tasting room are complete. The winery will be finished imminently. 

 

IMG_8207 (1)
The new mural on the wall by WEAREBEARD is awesome!

So the new tasting room has a great layout including a bar!, plenty of tables and seating and even a quite corner to relax in too.

The whole ethos of what the Haywood’s are doing at Astley is a credit to them, they understand that they are a boutique winery with only 5 acres of vines, they will never make much more than 10,000 bottles per year. So to that end they have made the whole vineyard extremely  visitor friendly, from walking through the woodland to the vineyard, or just popping in to have a glass of their wine on the new terrace. (Licence will be in place within weeks.) They will also be opening as a bar once or twice a month on a Friday or Saturday night, ticket only to enjoy their wines. Check website for updates.

Not only are they doing their own wine tasting sessions but Chris is providing monthly tastings for other wines from all over the world too. Sometimes these are just tasting nights but also they are doing gourmet food nights with wine matching each course. Which are quite the event.

Starting with a quick tour of the vines with Chris and some Q&A too.

Then a stroll up through the vines to the huge Teepee where the wines and delicious food is served.

40989787855_557b66ba59_o

 

YUM!

These events will take place frequently, there are 3 over the next few weeks. Take a look at the website link https://www.astleyvineyard.co.uk/events if you fancy a great night in the vines. Perfect Summer BBQ wines, Natural wines & the KERNER tasting experience which is not to be missed.

Join the Haywood family for a special exploration of the Kerner grape. Focusing on wines made from Kerner, you will taste an exclusive range of wines both from their private collection, as well as from Astley Vineyard’s unreleased stocks. Unlike their other events, you will sit down with their entire family and  explore wine as a group.

 

About time I started talking about their delicious wines.

Madeleine

 

 

 

Madeleine Angevine 2016 or “MAD ANGIE” as is sometimes known in the UK.

Grapes: Madeleine Angevine

Alc: 11.5% 

Residual Sugar: 7.6 g/L

Total Acidity: 9.2 g/L

A delicate wine floral on the nose, on the palate grapefruit with a touch of peachy notes too. On the finish the there is crisp acidity with a little mineral note too. A real citrus blast of a wine. a real foodie wine. 

RRP ÂŁ 11.00 Bargain!

 

 


Severn-Vale

Severn Vale 2016 

Grapes: Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Kerner & tiny drop of Oaked Sauvignon Blanc too.

Alc: 10.5% 

Residual Sugar: 10.2 g/L

Total Acidity: 8.4 g/L

This is a fabulous light summer wine for sitting out on the patio in the sunshine. Off dry. On the nose its apples all the way! On the palate ripe fruit with a crunchy green apple freshness delighting with a light floral note,  which then leads to more rich tropical notes and citrus acidity from the MAD ANGIE and Kerner on the finish. The SB in the wine gives a little roundness on the finish, but as its only about 2% its not made it feel oaky in anyway shape or form.

RRP ÂŁ 10.00

 


 

Sabrinna

SabrinnĂŁ 2016

Grapes: Siegerrebe & Bacchus

Alc: 11.5% 

Residual Sugar: 3.8 g/L

Total Acidity: 6.1 g/L

This is quite a big wine on the nose with a multitude of huge tropical fruit flavours filling the nose which makes you desperate to taste. Super fruity wine, yet dry. Mango, pineapple, passionfruit with the zest of limes. An absolute delight. In fact I drank one last night.

This wine is a great aperitif however it will be stunning with Asian food, spiced foods or as I had last night crab pâté on granary toast with ripe tomatoes.

RRP £ 16.00 

 

 


Bacchus

 

 

Bacchus 2016

Grapes: Bacchus

Alc: 10.5%

Residual Sugar: 9.7 g/L

Total Acidity: 8.5 g/L

For those of you who have not heard about Bacchus, well for me it’s to England what Sauvignon Blanc is to NZ.

It’s a crisp & dry wine, it’s packed with flavours of elderflower, kiwi fruit, lime, grapefruit and crisp green apples. All this fruit flavour yet dry but with a good acidity and a lingering finish too. Every time I taste this wine new flavours appear its a really delicious wine.

RRP ÂŁ 16.00

 

 


 

OVK

Old Vine Kerner 2015

Grapes: Kerner from 45 yr old vines

Alc: 11.5%

Residual Sugar: 10.3 g/L

Total Acidity: 8.8 g/L

For me without a doubt this is Astley Vineyards flagship wine. Its truly wonderful, I cant quite get my head round the fact that its from Worcestershire and 15 minutes from my house!

Slightly off dry this wine is elegant on the nose with fresh elderflower & honeysuckle. On the palate its white peaches, elderflower, a zestyness of freshness too. On the end it has a little nutty and spicey touch too.

I was and am a big fan of this wine. I bought this wine, then went back within a few days to get a case. It definitely has some aging potential too.

RRP ÂŁ 19.50

 

 

 


.sparkling

 

 

Vintage Spakling Kerner 2014

Grapes: Kerner

Alc: 10.5%

Residual Sugar: 11.8 g/L

Total Acidity: 9.8 g/L

Now I’m going to review this when the next vintage comes out as its not now for sale as its all been sold.

What’s interesting it’s really a great English Sparkling wine that is not made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.

RRP ÂŁ 28.50 SOLD OUT (SORRY)

But you can have by the glass in Central London at the Coral Rooms at the Bloomsbury hotel. 

 

 

 

img_8214.jpg
What a great sign! As you enter field of  vines

Images above were taken by me this morning 5th Aug 2018. 46 year old Kerner vines and this years crop so far.

There are great plans a foot and the grape press is being delivered tomorrow, so I will keep you informed about Astley’s new in house winery too.

 I wrote this because I love what they are doing at Astley and their wines.

I bought their wines myself and have not been paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliation.

 

Useful Links.

Astley Vineyard – https://www.astleyvineyard.co.uk/

Twitter: @AstleyVineyard

Wine GB. https://www.winegb.co.uk/

Twitter: @Wine_GB

We Are Beard ( Label and logo designers) https://www.wearebeard.com/

Twitter: @wearebeard

 

Welsh Wine. White Castle Vineyard- Part 2 WineGB🇬🇧

Hello again….. SO SOON haha.

Well I mentioned in my Part 1, WINE GB, piece last Sunday about Robb Merchant who is the Chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association and also owner of White Castle Vineyard whom I had met at the Wine GB event in London.

White Castle Vineyard is owned by Robb & Nicola Merchant, situated in the beautiful rolling countryside of Monmouthshire (WALES!) in the village of Llanvetherine close to the towns of Abergavenny and Monmouth. 

Robb had worked for the Post Office in South Wales for a long time in a senior management role which was a pretty stressful life and he decided to get away from the rat race.

Robb & Nicola purchased the 12 acre small holding in 1995 which they then converted the milking parlour barn into their home. It was then 2008 before the dream of owning a vineyard became a reality, 5 acres of a gently sloping, south facing field was purchased adjacent to the property. Soil samples were tested to see if it was ok for vines and they had the thumbs up, so off they went and purchased the vines.

logo

In May 2009 the first 4000 vines were planted. Pinot Noir Précoce, Regent, Rondo, Seyval Blanc & Phoenix varieties so now there certainly was no going back. In May 2010 they planted another 800 vines this time the variety was Siegerrebe.

IMG_6509

So in early May one beautiful sunny Sunday morning I suggested to Mrs D that we should take a ride out in the car….. towards Abergavenny…. maybe call in to a vineyard… I have to say my wife is a super star and enjoys wine too….. although just about tolerates by obsession.

On to Google……. I know they are open. I intend to surprise Robb unannounced. Which I have to say he took extremely well as he was busy and had a tasting/tour an hour after we arrived. Sorry Robb. Proper Gentleman.

After a quick hello and introductions to our wives we decided to check out the 5 acre vineyard. Now I know to some people this will sound so small but the passion that Robb & Nicola put in is incredible. Their aim is to make boutique wines (and making them they definitely are) and because production is less than 10,000 bottles per year unfortunately most of their wines will go to the ever expanding top restaurants (including Michelin Star) in the area. Although there is nothing stopping you ordering the wines directly from their website. However there are plans for expansion of the vineyard…. watch this space.

So through the Grade 2 listed barn, dating back to 1581! Now been totally restored, as a tasting room, for tours, hire and events.

IMG_6514

Over the beautiful river bridge, wow the water is so clear! I know it looks empty but it really is not. The water of these rivers and streams in Wales is incredible.

IMG_6513

IMG_6512 (1)

To the Vineyard where the vines are waking up from their winter sleep. 6th May 2018.

IMG_6510

So after a walk around, seeing how the different vines (grape) varieties were at different stages of growth we went back to the tasting rooms to try WELSH WINE!

Now because of their size its not practical to have their own winery, so they use Three Choirs Vineyard for their winemaking which is only 25 miles away. https://www.three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk/gloucestershire .

That said Robb & Nicola decide the whole process of how they want the wines made.

Starting off with “GWIN GWYN” 2016 which is Welsh means WHITE WINE.

Grape Varieties: 60% Phoenix % 40% Siegerebe 11% ABV RRP ÂŁ15.00

On the nose its predominantly Elderflower, then on the palate its a lime, gooseberries, and super fresh. Its a dry wine with a lovely zesty finish. Also right on the end of the finish I was getting sherbet (but not in a fizzy way!)

IMG_6516

Next was the White Castle Brut sparkling wine:

Made from 100% Phoenix Grapes 12% ABV RRP ÂŁ30.00. 1000 Btl Production

When poured this wine has super fine perlage, zesty fresh on the nose. On the palate it feels soft & delicate with elderflower & gooseberry notes classic of the Phoenix grape. 

IMG_6519

Next up was White Castle Regent.

100% Regent Grapes. 11.5% ABV. RRP.ÂŁ18.50

This pours red with a violet edge and looks and smells super fresh. On the palate its fruit, fruit and then more fruit! Blackberry, Morello Cherry with a lovely smokiness too. Its so fresh and a would be a delight on a summers day with a BBQ or any time with a plate of charcuterie. This wine I think would also be lovely, slightly chilled down to 12-14c 

IMG_6520

RONDO was next. 

100% RONDO grapes, 11.5% ABV RRP ÂŁ17.50.

Again this red wine is bright cherry red in the glass, fresh berries on the nose with a touch of spice too. In the mouth its black fruit all the way, medium bodied not to heavy at all but dry on the palate finishing with a lightness of oak too. Spends 4 months in OAK.

IMG_6523

Next to PINOT NOIR…. But not any old PN

100% Pinot Noir Précoce 2016, Known in Germany as Frühburgunder. This is a mutant of original PN which ripens earlier for cooler climate vineyards. 12% ABV RRP. £20.00

This for me really is their flagship wine. This wine spends 9 months on oak

25% No OAK, 25% New OAK, 25% + 25% in differently aged oak barrels. Then blended.

On the nose it has a much bigger and bolder feel than the Regent or Rondo. In the mouth its fresh but at the same time a great richness of cherries with blackberry touch too, vanilla, lightly spicy and subtle toasty notes too. So soft on the palate and so well balanced with tannins and acidity. (The PN Précoce is known for its lower tannin and acidity and it really shows) I liked this wine a lot. In fact Robb put me a case by please! 

I actually had this wine last night, you can check my twitter feed. I was sat in the garden when my neighbour, knowing I like the odd glass of wine (really???) asked what I was drinking, Welsh wine I replied….

She laughed, yeah yeah, no really what are you drinking I told her I was deadly serious and she should try it. She tried the wine (well her face was an absolute picture.) and then put down the glass and picked up the bottle…. I cannot believe that this wine is from Wales, it really is WELSH WINE! its delicious so smooth full of fruit and well just…. delicious!. My reply was that its only 40 minutes away near Abergavenny and you can go and visit and get your own haha. 

IMG_6399

Last but not least….. DESSERT WINE yes really a dessert wine made in WALES.

1581 its called, due to the date of the old Croft Barn, it is made from 100% Regent grapes. This is delicious and should be drunk with a beautiful cheese, figs and dates  platter. Only 500 Bottles made.  I will be reviewing this later after a tasting with friends. I’m going to see who guesses where its from and what its made from…… NO ONE WILL HAVE A CLUE!

So overall are these wines any good?

Well I guess the proof is in the purchases. I bought all of the wines reviewed!.

IMG_6526
You should go and visit! You will certainly have a very warm welcome from Robb & Nicola.

Below are some great pictures Robb has sent me from the 2016 & 2017 harvests.

If you are in area please go and visit, there are lots of top restaurants near by also.

http://www.whitecastlevineyard.com/index.html

Follow Robb and Nicola on Twitter: @Welshwines for a year of their vineyard. But more importantly try their WINE!!!!

Also check out 


http://www.winetrailwales.co.uk/

For other vineyards in Wales, although the list is increasing all the time as I see https://www.montgomeryvineyard.com/ are not on the list yet.


Also check out https://www.winegb.co.uk/ for England and Wales Vineyards.


Also another great website is https://www.winecellardoor.co.uk/

Which is a great independent resource for the consumer find out more about locations and which Vineyards that are open to the public. They have great maps online.