The grapes to produce the “Tancredi” Donnafugata were carefully selected in the vineyards. A further selection was carried out also in the cellar, thanks to the destemmer which removes green or over ripe grapes.The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks with 14 days of skin contact at temperatures of 28-30°C. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in a mixture of new and second-use French oak barriques for 13-14 months, followed by bottle ageing for at least 14 months before release.
The vineyards at Donnafugata’s Contessa Entellina estate are situated 200-400 metres above sea level in south-west Sicily. Soils are clay-based and rich in mineral elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The vines for this wine are trained using Vertical Shoot Positioning and are spur cordon pruned. Average planting density is 4,500 to 6,000 vines per hectare, with a yield of five tonnes per hectare. In 2008, the blend changed to include Tannat, a Mediterranean variety, first planted by Donnafugata experimentally in 2002. Since 2004, Tannat has been grown in the hilly area of Predicatore, where the soils are best suited to growing this variety.
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.