The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient cellars tunnel 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.
The vineyards at Donnafugata's Contessa Entellina estate are situated 200-600 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 5,000 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 2014 vintage was characterised by a fairly balanced climatic trend, marked by a relatively mild winter and a cool, rainy spring. Overall, there was lower than average rainfall levels, with the majority of rainfall concentrated in the spring months. July and August passed without excesses of heat and with an excellent temperature range between day and night, thus favouring the production of particularly fresh and balanced wines.
The team at Donnafugata have extremely high standards for the grapes that go into their wine and thanks to a latest generation destemmer, they are able to select only the very best grapes. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for about 12 days at temperatures of 28-30°C. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in new and second-use French oak barriques and tonneaux for 14 months, followed by bottle ageing for at least 24 months before release.
The Tancredi 2014 is ruby red in colour and is characterised by a fragrant bouquet, notes of red dark berry fruit combined with scents of liquorice, violet, black pepper and sweet tobacco. On the palate, the fruit character is solid and intense, with soft and well-integrated tannins and a long, fragrant finish.