Donnafugata Ben Rye 2021 (375ml)


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“The 2021 Ben Ryé is a total pleasure, seducing with a bouquet that mixes sweet smoke with tangerine, mint leaf and clove. Like pure nectar on the palate, this envelopes all it touches in texturally ripe orchard fruits and tropical melon. Sweet spices and sour citrus add contrast toward the close. It finishes spicy and long, leaving a dusty inner floral sensation and hints of candied ginger and lime. Ben Rye is always a total pleasure and, in my opinion, one of the top dessert wines produced in Italy. This varietal Zibibbo finishes at 197 grams of residual sugar per liter. Drinking window: 2023-2030. 94 points

These new releases from Donnafugata are very strong overall, showing a continued increase in overall quality across the board. However, the 2021 Ben Ryé lacks the soaring aromatics and textural depths of the 2019 I tasted last year. Of course, this is likely to do more with the arid conditions of the vintage than anything else. Still, it’s a wonderful effort and remains what I consider to be one of Italy’s greatest dessert wines. The balanced 2019 vintage is on full display through the Cabernet-dominated Dolce & Gabbana Tancredi and Nero d’Avola-dominated Mille e una Notte. Both wines show tremendous potential. I’m not a huge fan of marketing partnerships in the wine world, such as emblazing “Dolce & Gabbana” on the label, but this is a serious wine, and it’s obvious that Donnafugata is putting a lot of effort into making it very special. Their continued efforts on Mount Etna are also noteworthy and are starting to come into their own.”

Eric Guido, Vinous (09/23)