Excellent Additions to the Donnafugata Line-Up
Donnafugata 2017 Frappato Bell’Assai Vittoria 13.5% $28
Frappato tends to be a gluggable and easy-going sort of wine. The Bell’Assai label gives a vivid and accurate image of the typical experience of tasting Frappato.
So, this particular Frappato surprised me. When first opened, I was flummoxed by this wine’s firmness. Dazzlingly bright as ever for the grape, it had singing acidity and tremendous sapidity. Tastes of sweet raspberries and aromas of evergreen fronds were everywhere. But, this pale red’s resolute concentration hovered like a helicopter parent. It was far more intense than most of its kin, so much so that I suggest decanting it or, alternatively, settling in to enjoy a real revolution in the wine’s character over two or three nights. The initially ashy and savory finish lightens up on the second day, when only sweet, juicy berries linger on the palate. The tannins shift from sticky on Day One to downright melted on Day Two. Both facets are delightful!
Donnafugata 2016 Etna Rosso Sul Vulcano 13.5% $35
The Donnafugata labels are so vivid. This new wine’s is as fun as ever! The heaping pile of rocks seeming to symbolize Mount Etna almost looks like a pile of Nerello Mascalese grape pomace. Moreover, while the wine is as elegant as the lady on the label, I am sure that were I to inhale enough fumes from Etna, my hair might stand up as high, too! Anyway, the fancy ‘do makes me think of old, European aristocracy, and this wine is certainly as noble.
It is supremely fluid and ballet-like, especially considering how firm and unyielding Nerello Mascalese often is in its youth. However, this one also is characteristically pale in color for the variety. Then, there is its soft scent - discreet but offering such a feast for the mindful nose! It starts with tart cranberries and red currants then layers in fennel and ash. Medium-bodied, its tannins are beguilingly tender, and its supple acidity is finely woven into the wine’s light texture. If Etna had a wine to compare to a Pinot Noir, this might be it. (In fact, many Nerello Mascalese from Etna are considered Pinot-y.) Appealing now, this moderately complex wine will have several years of good cellaring to go, but there seems little reason to wait.