A flying visit to the Sicilian winery Donnafugata

Nov 21, 12 A flying visit to the Sicilian winery Donnafugata

Posted by in Italy, Travel

Donnafugata literally means “woman in flight” and it is inspired by the flight of Queen Maria Carolina, who fled Naples ahead of Napolean’s troops in the early 1800’s. She sought refuge in Sicily where Donnafugata’s vineyards now sit, and that is how the image of a woman with windblown hair became their logo and the winery got it’s name. The same description could be used to describe José (with a hard J) Rallo, daughter of the founders Gabriella and Giacomo Rallo, she is a whirlwind around the winery. Together with her brother Antonio, they are steering the winery into the future with many new initiatives and programs. There is a lot more to Donnafugata then just wine, although they have become quickly recognized for the high quality of their wines over the past 30 years, they also have a thriving vineyard visitors program, a partnership with a local restaurant  that specializes in using local produce and support a pannetone baking operation in a Paduan prison. They certainly don’t stop. They have 2 separate vineyard sites and the main winery in Marsala. One vineyard, is on the island of Pantelleria where they have an ungrafted vineyard of Zibibbo which is over a hundred years old. It’s from this island that they make their sweet wines. The pannetone made by the prisoners of Padua is made with their Kabir Moscato di Pantelleria DOP. The chef of the prison bakery gave us a talk on the production of the pannetone and how much support Donnafugata has given them over the years. The bakery started out making a few hundred pannetone and now produce over 60,000 a year, all handmade, each batch taking over 70 hours to make. After the talk we got to try the various pannetone including the Kabir laced one. They were the best pannetone I’ve ever had, soft, moist and fluffy – not like the usual dry as sawdust pannetone you get here in London. The Kabir itself was fresh and full of honey,...

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Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

May 14, 12 Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

Posted by in Italy, wine bars

You don’t have to go far from the UK to find exciting wines and wine regions. It’s easy to forget sometimes that we are very lucky to have access to wines from all over the world. We have so many great wine shops here. I was reminded of this last week when some Texan wine blogging friends of mine were in town and we decided to do a bit of wine tasting. We visited only a few but they were quite  impressed by the range of wines and wine shops in London. One of the shops we visited was the Italian wine specialist Vini Italiani. I like that name, if you say it out loud, it sounds like you’re referring to your friend Vinny. As in “Yo, Vinny! What’s  up?” Anyway. Italy is one of my favourite wine countries because I’m always discovering a new wine or variety or sometimes, both!  Everyone knows Barolo and Chianti, perhaps Nero d’Avola  and, of course, the ubiquitous pinot grigio but there are so many other varieties and wines waiting to be discovered. I had never been to Vini Italiani but had heard about it via Twitter and Facebook and it looked like they might have an interesting selection. What attracted me more then anything were the enomatic machines. I think they are a great attraction in any wine shop and certainly make the prospect of wine shopping a lot more fun. For those of you who are not familiar with the machines or haven’t had the opportunity to use them, they are basically wine dispensing machines which use a chip and pin type card to purchase the wine. You put on a set amount of money on the card and then slip it into the machine and make your choice. The machines dispense the wines in 3 different sizes, at Vini Italiani it was 25ml, 50 mls and 75 mls, all at various price points depending on the price of the bottle, which gets deducted from the...

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