The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient…
They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional sweet Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing some of the region’s native grape varieties. Today, they have two estates in Sicily: a modern winery and 260 hectares at Contessa Entellina in the hills east of Marsala and 68 hectares on the island of Pantelleria. Donnafugata means ‘fleeing woman’ – a reference to Queen Maria Carolina who, with her husband Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th century 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.
Mille e Una Notte is made from Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Syrah and other red grapes from the Contessa Entellina Estate. The vines are planted at densities of 5,000 plants per hectare. They are trained using a counter-espalier system and are cordon spur pruned, The orography is hilly and the soils are clay loam.
With cool temperatures and rainfall concentrated in spring, 2011 was a vintage with lower rainfall than usual. 513mm of rainfall was recorded over the 12 months compared to the 10 year average of 683mm. Overall, yields were slightly lower than average. The harvest of the grapes destined for Mille e Una Notte began during the first week of September with the Nero d’Avola and Syrah and completed in the third week with the Petit Verdot.
A further selection is carried out in the cellar, thanks to a destemmer that is able to discard the green and overripe berries that might still be on the clusters. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and maceration on the skins lasts for 12 days at temperatures of 26 -30°C. Ageing takes place for 14 months in new French oak barriques, and then in the bottle for at least 36 months.
Mille e Una Notte 2011 is characterised by pronounced aromas that range from red cherry to spices such as pepper and liquorice. The palate is fragrant, perfectly reflecting the nose, with soft and enveloping tannins. The finish is long and persistent. A wine with great personality and elegance.