The co-operative of San Donaci was founded in 1933 in Salento, Italy. This region is at the very "heel" of Italy's boot. Salento was one of the poorest and most economically undernourished states in Italy. In order for the growers to make money, they had to band together to pool their resources.
They started with 12 growers and today have more than 500 in their ranks, producing over 260,000 cases of wine annually under their label. Each grower couldn't possibly afford to have their own winery, but with each putting in a small share, they collectively have one of the most technologically advanced facilities in Italy.
Actually, the growers grow enough grapes to produce over one million cases of wine, but sell most of their wine in bulk to producers in Northern Italy and France, for blending.
The grape here is Malvasia Nera, which is Greek in origin, but is now produced in Italy more than any place in the world. Malvasia is also a white grape, Malvasia Bianco, which is much more common. But the Nera is considered a rare prize, and you can tell why with your first sip.
In the warm, Mediterranean climate of Salento, it ripens like no other. Typically, it is blended with Negroamaro for body and color, but the concentration of flavors here - due to the climate and soil - demand that it stand on its own. Here is a substantial red with aromas and flavors of red currants and black cherry with a lovely spice to the finish.