Ben Ryé

Italy, Sicily


Ben Ryé

If Zibibbo is the prince of aromatic varieties, then its kingdom is surely Pantelleria. This extraordinary dessert wine is made by adding de-stemmed, dried grapes to fresh must in several batches. Sunshine in a glass; ripe fruit, raisins and caramel, gorgeously sweet, fresh and very viscous. Drizzle over ice cream.

WBSS24 Ben Ryé 2013

The Essence of Donnafugata's Wines

The natural sweet wines of Donnafugata, exuding sunniness and elegance, represent the essence of the Zibibbo grape cultivated on the island of Pantelleria. From this unique terroir, the winery crafts Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria DOC, revered as one of Italy's most esteemed dessert wines worldwide, alongside its dry table-wine counterpart, Lighea.

Challenges of Viticulture in Pantelleria

Pantelleria, a volcanic island situated between Sicily and North Africa, experiences extreme winds and natural conditions, demanding sustainable viticulture practices. The vineyards, some dating back a century, sprawl across diverse districts with predominantly sandy volcanic soils, ranging from 20 to 400 meters above sea level.

Historic Viticulture Tradition

Zibibbo, renowned for its aromatic profile, thrives in Pantelleria's historic viticulture tradition of head-trained bush vines, recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for its creative and sustainable approach. These vines are cultivated within sandy basins, pruned to adopt a horizontal growth pattern that withstands the island's relentless winds.

The Rigors of Viticulture in Pantelleria

Viticulture in Pantelleria demands unwavering dedication, passion, and commitment. The steep terraced lands, delineated by labor-intensive dry lava stone walls, necessitate daily toil. The labor intensity is roughly triple that of typical quality-oriented vineyards, excluding the maintenance of approximately 40 kilometers of dry stone walls.

Crafting Ben Ryé

Ben Ryé, named after the island's winds, stands as one of Italy's most esteemed natural sweet wines. The Zibibbo harvest at Donnafugata unfolds over 3–4 weeks, with grapes meticulously handpicked and sorted in the vineyards. Upon reaching the winery, the grapes undergo further sorting on a vibrating table before gentle pressing. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures, with dried grapes added in several batches to the fresh must, each destemmed and hand-selected. During maceration, the dried grapes impart their exceptional sweetness, freshness, and distinctive aroma. The vinification process, encompassing fermentation and maceration, extends over a month. Aging occurs in stainless steel for five months followed by at least eight months in bottle before release.


Mediterranean sunshine in a glass; the rich, ripeness of the fruit is supported by a really nice acidity. The texture is viscous and most pleasant. The notes of toasted walnuts on the nose suggestive of Vin Jaune. The concentration is there, as is the complexity and the length is really persistent. Outstanding.


Pair with desserts such as molasses ice cream or a hazelnut ganache with a cookie crumble and sea salt. Equally, and very simply, enjoy with pure vanilla ice cream and pour this wine over the top.


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WBSS24 Ben Ryé 2013

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