Wine Review: Donnafugat​a, Contessa Entellina Bianco "Chiarandà" 2009 DOC

Donnafugata, Contessa Entellina Bianco "Chiarandà" 2009 DOCOn a previous post, we have talked about how Chardonnay is successfully grown in various regions throughout Italy, literally from Valle d’Aosta in the north to Sicily in the south, and how several Italian wineries make some excellent wines from such a widely cultivated international variety.

Very broadly speaking, I have to say I rather review and promote wines made out of Italian indigenous grape varieties, essentially because they differentiate themselves from the ubiquitous international varieties, because there are many excellent ones and because, by so doing, I think I am giving my small contribution to preserve biodiversity also in the vineyard (a wine world populated only by Chardonnays, Sauvignons, Pinots and Merlots would be a pretty boring one, if you ask me!) and to make certain Italian wines better known outside of Italy.

However, it is undeniable that certain international varieties have been successfully grown in Italy and that excellent, elegant wines are made out of such grapes which oftentimes are not very well known to the general public.

So today’s review is of a Sicilian Chardonnay that I very much like and that illustrates the point that Chardonnay is an extremely versatile variety that can give excellent results even in warmer climates like Sicily’s.

The wine I am talking about is Donnafugata‘s Contessa Entellina Bianco “Chiarandà” DOC 2009 ($35).

The Bottom Line

Overall, I very much enjoyed the Chiarandà, which I found to be a very elegant and “clean” Chardonnay, in which its oaky notes are not dominant but rather very well integrated such that they add to (instead of overwhelm) its pleasantly fruity and mineral flavor palette.

Rating: Very Good and definitely Recommended Very Good – $$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Producer and the Wine

Founded in 1983, Donnafugata is one of the top Sicilian wineries that contributed to the “Sicilian wine revolution” by contributing passion, investments and professionalism to raise the profile of Sicilian winemaking and produce top quality wines.

Their Chiarandà is a 100% Chardonnay wine made from the grapes grown in Donnafugata’s vineyards in a hilly region of the Contessa Entellina DOC appellation near the homonymous town (about halfway between Marsala and Palermo), in the western part of Sicily, at an altitude between 200 and 600 mt (650 to 1,950 ft) above sea level. The vineyards from which Chiarandà is made achieve an excellent density of 4,500 to 6,000 vines/HA and the vine training system used is spurred cordon.

The wine has 13% ABV and is fermented in stainless steel vats and then undergoes 6 months of aging on its lees in a mix of concrete and oak vessels of various sizes plus 24 additional months of in-bottle fining. Given its lively acidity (see, tasting notes below) it is a wine with great aging potential, in the 10 year range. In the US, the Chiarandà retails for about $35.

Our Detailed Review

Let’s now get down to the actual review of the 2009 Chiarandà that I had. As usual, I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.

In the glass, it is a beautiful golden yellow in color, and thick when swirled.

On the nose, its bouquet is intense, fine and definitely complex, with an array of enticing aromas of peach, tangerine, butter, vanilla, herbs (sage), mineral and iodine notes.

In the mouth, the wine is dry, warm, smooth; with lively acidity and pronounced minerality. It is medium to full-bodied with good structure and very balanced, with intense and fine mouth flavors reminiscent of its aromatic palette and a long finish, with those flavors pleasantly lingering in the mouth long after gulping down a sip. Its evolutionary state was ready (meaning, fine to drink now, but can take two or three more years of aging without compromising its qualities).

As usual, if you have tasted Chiarandà before, let me know how you liked it.

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0 thoughts on “Wine Review: Donnafugat​a, Contessa Entellina Bianco "Chiarandà" 2009 DOC

  1. benvenutocellini

    well, i perfectly agree with you…even if most of the times i choose white wines produced in northern Italy…my latest discovery was Bianco Faye 2007, Pojer e Sandri…pure poetry…and i also have to say that there are so many producers, completely unknown…producing great wines…!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you Benvenuto and… Welcome! 😉 And you are definitely right: the Bianco Faye is an excellent wine! And so is their Rosso. Good stuff! Thank you for your comment!

  2. Dina

    Good morning to you from the stormy coast of Norfolk. I’d love to try this fine wine from Donnafugata one day, Stefano. It’s on my list!
    Have a wonderful week.

  3. apuginthekitchen

    I have only recently discovered the wines from Donnafugata, I love the way this sounds and agree with Bam, it will be perfect for the warm weather thats coming. As always, thank you for introducing us to a wonderful wine and this was a great review.

  4. Bam's Kitchen (@bamskitchen)

    Bonjourno Stefano. I am glad you introduced this wine today as a perfect warm weather accompaniment to many dishes. Those bouquet of flavors sounds delightful. What kinds of dishes do you think it would pair best with? Wishing you a fantastic week. Take care, BAM

    1. Stefano Post author

      Buon giorno a te, BAM, e grazie per il commento! 🙂
      I am glad you enjoyed the read – while I plan to still review good reds, the warmer season certainly motivates me to throw more whites in the mix!
      Just like you said, the bouquet of the Chiaranda’ is really appealing and refined. In terms of pairings, off the top of my head it would go well with dishes with a certain structure (too simple ones could easily be overwhelmed by this wine) based on fish (like Francesca’s sea scallops with olives and potatoes, for instance) or white meats or obviously pasta dishes such as the Sicilian “Norma” or a juicy Carbonara. And then, if you decide to experiment based on the ISA wine pairing principles illustrated in a previous post of mine, then the sky is the limit and you can come up with creative new pairings!
      At any rate, if you can lay your hands on a bottle of the Chiaranda’, I think you will not be disappointed!
      Have a great weekend!

  5. Maria Dernikos

    I learn every time I read one of your posts. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this but this particular wine really appeals to me maybe its the beautiful wine label? Your description certainly makes me want to try it.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you very much, Maria: your kind comment really made my day.
      And you raised a very good point as you reminded me of something I wanted to include in my review but then forgot, which is a remark as to the beautiful artwork on the label: it is true that one should not pick a bottle based on the label alone, but if the wine is good, there is nothing wrong to have a fancy label to complement it! 🙂

  6. Kiara Style

    Stefano, your posts are always as fresh as a great glass of Bianco…..which is what I need right now in this hot California weather that only makes me want to be sitting under a Maritime Pine in front of the ocean….also I really appreciate talking about biodiversity and the importance of keeping variety in agriculture and on our tables! Ciao

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Chiara! So good to hear from you! I tell you, there’s definitely worse things than sipping a good glass of white wine sitting in the shade of a pine gazing at the ocean in beautiful California! 😉 I’d join you in a heartbeat (along with a wine cooler, of course!)
      And yes, I think preserving diversity against so much pressure on standardization and mass distribution in the food and beverage industry is a challenge worth fighting for!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, B: while I wish we would all settle on a common weight and length measurement system the world over (and since we are at it, same plugs/outlets everywhere, please!), I really think diversity in the vineyard is something that should not only be preserved but incentivized so that more people venture out of their comfort zones and try out new wines and grape varieties.