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The labels are gorgeous.
Donnafugata’s foray into the Etna DOC is stylish. The bottles feature a painted woman who has become one with the volcano. It’s not just any volcano though, it’s Europe’s most active. At 3,350 meters (10,991 feet), Mount Etna towers over Eastern Sicily. It also happens to be one of the ‘it’ wine regions in Europe.
Volcanic wine is a hot topic these days, but few vineyards exist on an active volcano – except on Mount Etna. I first visited this part of Italy in 2015 and was blown away (metaphorically speaking) by the splendor of Mount Etna. Traveling from tasting room to tasting room, I never got tired of looking up and seeing Etna blowing smoke.
Donnafugata’s Latest Winery
I missed visiting Donnafugata’s Etna estate back then for good reason – it didn’t exist. The winery acquired vineyards on the mountain in 2016 and has just started releasing wines from the property. The Etna region is Donnafugata’s latest expansion through Sicily. The original winery is located in Marsala and they also own vineyards in Pantelleria, Vittoria, and Contessa Entellina.
I didn’t know what to expect from Donnafugata’s Etna wines. Two of their more famous reds ‘Tancredi’ and ‘Mille e Una Notte’ are full-bodied, high-alcohol wines. The exact opposite of what I want in wines from Etna.
Thankfully, the labels aren’t just smoke and mirrors. These are serious wines focused on acidity and subtlety, not alcohol and power. The entry-level offerings are great value for money (Etna wines can get pricey) while their Contrada wines restore my faith in the Etna Rosso category.
Bring these to the dinner table and let the labels start the conversation before letting the wines do the talking. And when the world opens up, take a trip to Etna and taste under a smoking volcano. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!
Donnafugata Etna Wines
- Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Rosato 2020
The Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Rosato is made from Nerrello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Intense and complex with notes of mineral, crushed rock, smoke, lime, and basil. The palate is mineral driven. While it’s a lighter rosé, it’s extremely complex. There’s a spicy, citrusy finish with substantial length. This is a more serious rosé for those that demand more, it’s not a poolside sipper. Score: 90/100
- Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Bianco 2018
The Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Bianco is 100% Carricante and some of the wine was aged in French oak. It’s zesty on the nose with notes of basil, lemon, smoke, and a touch of crushed rock. Riesling fans will love this as there’s plenty of acidity here. The wine plays on lemon and mineral flavors. The acid stretches out the long, peppery finish and there is just a kiss of vanilla from the oak. This is for acid freaks. Score: 90+/100
- Donnafugata, ‘Dea Volcano’ Etna Rosso 2018
The Donnafugata, ‘Dea Volcano’ Etna Rosso is a blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio partially aged in oak. Lighter-colored red with notes of sour cherry, smoke, rose petal, and a kiss of oak. It’s a medium-bodied red with a lot of juiciness and it’s incredibly easy to drink. The fruit takes center stage here. I’d like a slighlty longer finish but there’s a lot to like here. I would classify this as an easy-going bistro red. Score: 90+/100
- Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Rosso 2017
The Donnafugata, ‘Sul Volcano’ Etna Rosso is a blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio partially aged in oak. There are notes of cherry, mushroom, earth, and pepper. The wine does have wood but it’s put together in the wine well. This is a pretty, medium-bodied red that seems easy enough before the complexity and tannins hit on the back end. There’s plenty of stuffing here to suggest this wine still hasn’t seen its best days. Score: 90/100
- Donnafugata, ‘Contrada Marchesa’ Etna Rosso 2018
The Donnafugata, ‘Contrada Marchesa’ is a single-vineyard, 100% Nerello Mascalese aged in oak. It’s more savory than the Sul Volcano Etna Rosso and Dea Etna Rosso. Deep nose with leather, cedar, black pepper, sour cherry, and cranberry flavors. It’s a medium-bodied red but one with a lot of complexity and depth. The fruit, earth, and leather notes all come together as one with a lovely tension on the back end. This is still a baby but it will be hard to keep your hands off of it. Score: 94/100
- Donnafugata, ‘Fragore’ Etna Rosso 2018
The Donnafugata, ‘Fragore’ is a single-vineyard, 100% Nerello Mascalese aged in oak. Notes of black cherry, licorice, strawberry, leather, and black pepper. It really smells like a Grenache from the Southern Rhône. The palate really has the feel of a good red Burgundy. The fruit and leather notes come together as one. There’s a lot of complexity here that leaves you searching for more. While I may prefer the higher-toned red fruit from the Contrada Marchesa bottling, there’s no denying the excellence here. Score: 93/100
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Donnafugata provided tasting samples. The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.