Donnafugata, Passito di Pantelleria DOC (Italy) “Ben Ryè” 2015

($35):  Baldo Palermo, a representative of Donnafugata, described the island of Pantelleria as, “A volcanic rock jutting from the sea,” where the major activity is “listening to the wind.”  Hence it’s appropriate that this wine is called Ben Ryè, which means son of the wind.  The vines are trained in low, bush-like fashion to resist the wind.  Made from Muscat of Alexandria (a.k.a. Zibibbo) grapes, which are dried in the sun, the wine belies the reputation of that Muscat sub-variety as being coarse.  The 2015 Ben Ryè, like its predecessors, is as clean and elegant as you could imagine.   The harvest typically extends over four to five weeks.  Donnafugata, one of Sicily’s best producers, makes the wine by adding grapes that have been dried since the beginning of the harvest to freshly picked ones before fermentation.  This method requires about 4 kilos of grapes to make a liter of wine.  The result is a wine redolent of figs and honey with vigorous mouth-cleansing acidity that prevents it from being cloying or tiring.  There’s a hint of apricot-like skin texture from tannins leached from the dried grapes. This is a splendid way to end a meal, and the half bottle (375 ml) in which it is sold will serve six easily.  Your guests will be very happy.  So will you. 93 Michael Apstein Jul 25, 2017