Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Hundred! 2004 Donnafugata Tancredi

Sometimes your first experience with a new grape or wine region is plain awful. That's natural - it's new, and maybe it wasn't to your liking. But there are so many producers out there, how do you know whether you hate the grape or hate the maker? Well, you'll never know until you taste more of that grape/region, but I find too many wine enthusiasts just plain give up right away. 

Me? I never give up on a grape or region. The eternal optimist, supporter of the underdog, I am always hoping to find that one good wine that proves myself and everyone else wrong. But when I have a disappointing experience with a grape/wine region I do the counterintuitive thing, I buy the most expensive bottle I can find - after all, if they can't make a good wine from that grape at $30+, maybe they should just give up, right?  With that in mind, and despite all of my trashing of Nero d'Avola, I thought I'd give this 'misunderstood' grape a chance to shine in the climactic finish to my quest to taste one hundred grape varieties

The most expensive Nero I could find for this day was the 2004 Donnafugata Tancredi (Contessa Entellina), a blend of Nero d'Avola (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. My previous experiences with Nero (and Sicilian reds in general) have been less than stellar, with most presenting leathery wall of dense, jammy fruit and little structure. But tonight's high stakes bet paid off - a first pour into the decanter and my nose was greeted by a wall of meaty black cherries (confirming my fears, I thought), but in the glass it provided an unexpected "green-ness" - green beans, peppers, and pine lumber, later some flintiness and tarriness - earthy volcanic ash as the night progressed. Incredibly crisp and focused, so unexpectedly stern and unjammy, flavourful but light at the same time. Blinded I might have thought a Loire red. My expectations were low, and this wine blew them away -  a pleasure to pair with meals and nice over the next three evenings, and would probably age well over the next few years.
cork. 14% alcohol
Score: 17.5+/20
Price: C$33.75 (SAQ)


Edward said...


Well done on the 100. The name of the wine sounds very rude, and very interesting.

In my feeble mind, I find a meat and pea wine (smells at once of meat and something a little green) can mean the grapes have had a very hot vintage, or that they have been left a little too long on the vine.

Edward said...


Just back from some retail therapy (only 3 bottles made it home). I saw the Donnafugata Mille e una Notte - which sells for $A130. . . I'm not sure I'm quite that curious. . .

Could not perfectly match you on anything, other than the 05 Mitolo GAM - which I picked up for a future 'rematch'.

Mahmoud said...

What! Tancredi for C$33.75! That is a great price. Wish I could get it for that price in Edmonton. I've been to Donnafugata's cellar door and tasted the Tancredi. Don't remember the vintage but it was delicious.

The best Nero d'Avola I've had was the 1997 Rosso del Conte by Tasca d'Almerita. It was a few years ago and I haven't seen the wine recently.

If anyone can tell me where I can find the Tancredi in Edmonton i would be grateful.


Joe said...

Ed - Thanks - I will now join one other Quebecer (wonder who they are...) and just 37 Canucks on the list. Only 6 Aussies there Ed... I rarely find "green" in overripe fruit, just underripe - this was not an overripe wine. Anyway, the Mitolo sounds like a decent backup - I may just send you my full spreadsheet so you can decide.

Hi Mahmoud - Quebec is an odd wine market, highly taxed yet with such buying power (monopoly buyer for the highest per capita wine drinkers in North America, and we don't drink local) that they pass down the savings on a bunch of odd items - I'd probably pay two bucks more per bottle than you for some tasty "Yellow Tail", yet save on the Tancredi! You need to fly to Montreal to pick up some wine. We have some of the Tasca d'Almerita offerings here, but not the Rosso del Conte - I may just try one now that you piqued my interest. Cheers!

Marcus said...

I found this wine for $24 over the summer -- a single bottle on Parc Ave priced to clear by the manager. I drank it around the same you did with a big juicy steak.

Joe said...

You are the master of the bargain, Marcus! Juicy steak-frites sounds perfect (I'm thinking Entrecote St-Jacques)

Mahmoud said...

Just an update.

I finally spotted the Tancredi here in Edmonton, the 2002 vintage. One store had it priced at $38 and another at $30. The best part of the story is that I looked up the brochure I picked up when I was at Donnafugata and see from my tasting notes that I tasted the 2002 Tancredi. I thought it excellent and had given it 90-92 points.

Naturally I bought a couple of bottles to cellar. A happy ending.


Joe said...

Hi Mahmoud - glad you found it - I may go and get some more. Do you work in the wine industry in Edmonton? Any good shops there? I am going there on business quite frequently now.

Mahmoud said...


I don't work in the wine business but know people who do. My hobby is wine so I always stop off at different wine stores.

The best wine store in Edmonton is DeVines (104 Street just north of Jasper Avenue), it has the best selection of fine wines, knowledgeable staff, and reasonable prices.

The best selection of single malts (I recently hosted a single malt tasting for my running group) is at the shop at the side of the Chateau Louis Hotel on Kingsway Avenue. They have the best Scotch prices in town and even have some single malts bottled for them by Murray McDavid with a limited release of 210 bottles!

The local SuperStore has a limited selection of fine wines and single malts but the lowest prices of all.

Have fun.............Mahmoud.