Sicilian wine adventures – Part 8; with a little helping hand from the Rhone Valley


Indigenous is trendy. It’s cool to dare saying no to uniformity. That should however not stop producers from being innovative and seeking exciting, but perhaps unorthodox results. Take the Polena as an example. Donnafugata has found a way to put Cataratto, the most planted green grape on Sicily, on the map.

Well, it was on the map previously as well, but Cataratto has more likely been equivalent with quantity, simple wines and overproduction. A lot of the Cataratto’s ends up in the Marsala wines but with low yields, harvesting at night and adding a friend from the Rhone Valley, Donnafugata has introduced a great marriage – Polena, equal parts of Cataratto and Viognier.

There’s something about the label of Polena. I love the colors, the simple but yet elegant drawing. Feels perfect for the content. Labels and shape do affect us more than we would like to believe. I know what attracts me. I think. Are you aware of your weak spots?

If you don’t like the Polena label then just move on to what’s in it. The 2009 is such a refreshing drink, which might sound strange considering this Sicilian isn’t a Etna high-altitude vineyard. Donnafugata has solved the heat issue magnificently. The Viognier grapes are harvested already in August while the Cataratto, which possesses a higher acidity, is harvested in September. Aromas from the slightly perfumed Viognier combined with acidity and some mouth-fill from Cataratto; there you have the formula for success.

Cataratto. Considered one of the indigenous grapes of Sicily and no-one seems able to track its origin. DNA typing in 2008 however, showed a close genetic similarity with Garganega. A possible parent?


Tasting note on the 2009 Polena, Donnafugata

Light yellow color. Hello beautiful! Love the floral scents, the white peaches, the lime and the generous amounts of wet rocks and smoke. So fresh. I’ve had the Polena a few times and noted floral scents on each occasion without really figuring out and identifying a specific flower. Now I now; it’s jasmine!

On the palate it is dry and crisp with fine peachy and mineral driven notes. Anjou pears, lemon peel, honey and fine balancing acidity. Refreshing and slightly smoky finish. A wine to drink young. Perfect starter or even better, to accompany a Sicilian Cuscusu.

Life seems so trouble-free when the Polena’s in the glass.

Less than eight euros. Quite a find!

2009 Polena, Cataratto/Viognier, Western Sicily, 86-87 p

PS. Polena is the wooden decoration that depicts fantastic feminine creatures on ships. They were believed to assure a safe voyage.