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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Saturday, 12 June 2010 12:49

Passing By: Giulia Lazzarini of Donnafugata

Giulia Lazzarini, Export Manager Northern Europe, Asia & Oceania for Donnafugata, one of the top five producers of Sicily was in India recently, visiting Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi where she met the customers and conducted tastings including at the Hyatt Regency Delhi where Subhash Arora met her for a chat and a quick tasting of the five labels that have already been released.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewThe April Edition of Wine Enthusiast selected the Planeta Santa Cecilia-a 100% Nero d’Avola as the only Sicilian wine in its List of Top Ten best Italian wines. When I discussed with the author of the report in Sicily, Monica Larner who writes for the second most popular wine magazine in the USA, said that she debated a lot between Cecilia and the Mille a Una Notte Rosso Contessa Entellina DOC from Donnafugata. In the end, she settled for the former as ‘Mille’ costing around €30 tipped the scales slightly. Monica had done a thorough job in selection and this article probably helped her win her the ‘Young Best Foreign Journalist Award’ given by the Grandi Cru d’Italia, the producers association in Italy-second time in a row.

Giulia Lazzarini, Export Manager Northern Europe, Asia & Oceania for Donnafugata was in India recently when she visited Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi where I met her at the Hyatt Regency Hotel; she had organised a training-cum tasting session which included this prized wine along with four others.

Donnafugata is listed as one of the six 2-starred Sicilian wineries in the 2010 edition of l’Espresso (there are none yet with 3-stars), the well respected Italian Wine Guide.’ But we have become such a strong brand that a majority of our customers don’t even know we are from Sicily.’ Overseas, it is considered a respected Italian label, though only 25% of their 2 million bottle production is exported.

‘About 75% of our market is almost equally divided into Sicily and the rest of Italy,’ she says adding, ‘it is amazing how our sales people have close relationship with the clients in Sicily. I have travelled with them throughout Sicily and they are so friendly with the customers that they don’t talk about wine but just socialize. Orders come automatically!’ There may be a lesson in it for the Indian wine sellers; there are a lot of similarities between Sicily and India.

So what has been her experience of the three cities? ‘Mumbai was good-a dinner was organised very successfully in Stella at the Leela where they are already selling our wines. But I was really mesmerized by the response in Bangalore. I guess I didn’t anticipate such positive vibes before coming here. The Italian food at the Park was amazing. That Chef Vimal knows how to make great authentic Italian food- I will vouch for that! And our wines went fabulously with the food he had laid out’

Though all of 31 years old, Giulia (pronounced as Julia) is very passionate about wines and knows her Nero from Nebbiolo very well. In a short time of a year and a half with the company, she seems to have had a good grip with its products and hopefully one would see more of her during the annual visits and hopefully she would have finished the advanced diploma she is pursuing at WSET, London, alongside her job.

Donnafugata is also an example of the ‘wine swapping’ that has been going on during the last couple of years between producers and the importers. While De Bortoli, a premium winery in Australia changed partners and went from Aspri to FineWinesnMore, the ‘Donna’ was with FWM and has come to Aspri. Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of the wine division, is very upbeat about the label. ‘We are already supplying it to several hotels like         Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental Marine Drive and the Leela in Mumbai, the Leela, the Park and Royal Orchid in Bangalore and the Hyatt Regency in  Delhi. We plan to cover a majority of 5-star hotels in India including for this brand and also open up the retail for a couple of Mumbai,’ he says. Arun Kumar, the Director of Aspri, based in Delhi adds, ‘we are also working on getting these wines in Chennai and Andhra Pradesh, especially in Hyderabad where the market is booming. Kolkata is already on our radar, where we are already doing very well there.’

Aspri spirits has introduced five labels from the Donnafugata range including Mille e Una Notte DOC (Nero d'Avola).  Ben Rye (Passito-sweet wine), La Fuga DOC (Chardonnay), Anthilla IGT Sicilia and Sedára IGT Sicilia are the other four wines.

Click For Large ViewNero d’Avola is one grape that has found favour with the Indian palate like delWine has been predicting over the years. This is also the most favourite indigenous varietal of Sicily, that finds different expression in different soils. Mille e Una Notte (the name means thousand and one nights, nostalgic of Arabian fantasies) is the label beautifully  designed by Gabriella, the mother of the all-woman Jose Rollo who along with the parents has worked hard to make the Sicilian wines gain international respect.

Mille would remain an expensive wine in India- unless Aspri can convince the duty free suppliers to keep it at the airports. In that case it would become a fabulous wine-it ages well for 15-20 years. For ordinary mortals, Sedára should do fine- same grape (Mille has 90% Nero), similar taste but not that complexity naturally.

For details visit

For a detailed article on Sicilian wineries visited, included Donnafugata, click,



alessia panzeca Says:

Thanks a lot for your gorgeous article on Donnafugata.Thanks to the article I also learnt why Monica selected the Santa Cecilia for her top list! Good to know! I am happy you had the chance to taste again Donnafugata wines, this time in India, and you enjoyed wines and met Giulia. Warmest regards Alessia

Posted @ June 14, 2010 15:42


Giulia Lazzarini Says:

Dear Mr Arora, Thank you for your great article about Donnafugata! And thank you for your advise, I will do my best to finish my WSET diploma asap! I look forward to welcoming you at Donnafugata in Sicily! Best regards, Giulia Lazzarini-Donnafugata Export Manager

Posted @ June 12, 2010 16:18


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