The grapes for the Frappato “Bell’Assai” Donnafugata, were macerated on their skins for around 8-9 days to extract the aromatics and flavours that are typical of the varietal. They were then fermented in stainless-steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 24-25°C, with malolactic fermentation allowed. After fermentation, the wine was aged in tank for four months before undergoing a further three months ageing in bottle prior to release.
The vineyards for this wine are located in Acate, in south-east Sicily, at an altitude of 120-150 metres above sea level. The gently sloping terrains have sandy soils with a substratum of calcareous tuff and clay. The climate is typically Mediterranean, mitigated by sea breezes during the summer and in an area that experiences a good diurnal range. Vines are trained to vertical shoot positioning with cordon pruning, leaving 6-10 buds per plant, and are planted at a density of 4,000-5,000 per hectare.
The Rallo family is the Donnafugata Estate owners and has made wine in Marsala since 1851. Their ancient cellars tunnel are situated beneath the city. They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing the potential of the region’s native varieties. Today, Donnafugata has four estates in Sicily: a modern winery and 283 hectares at Contessa Entellina in the hills east of Marsala; 36 hectares in Vittoria to the south eastern point of the island; 68 hectares on the island of Pantelleria; and 18 hectares on the slopes of Etna. Donnafugata means ‘fleeing woman’ and is a reference to Queen Maria Carolina, who escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th century with her husband, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, when Napoleon’s troops arrived. The couple took refuge in Sicily at the Santa Margherita Belice palace, also the favourite residence of celebrated writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and depicted on the ‘Mille e una Notte’ label.