Size & Type
If you didn’t see the colour you might well think this was a white. Deeper inspection sees a those elements that take into the territory of a refreshing Rosé!
Excellent crisp dry white style. With just that edge of phenolics and a little cherry hinting at it being a Rosé. Again playful fun lovely flavours just delicious hooverable. A little spice and hint of rose. Loads of energy, very together!
Line and length here my friends!
Giuseppe Russo visited Wine Decoded HQ to talk all things Lava Juice AKA Wines from Mount Etna, Sicily.
Giuseppe shared his knowledge of the history of viticulture on Mount Etna and his history from training in classical music and literature to returning to his family vineyards to transition them to the delicious Enta reds wines, white wine, and rosato that he makes today.
We tasted through all of his wines including the Contrade (single vineyard) wines Feudo di Mezzo, Calderara Sottana, and San Lorenzo.
His a humble guy, who managed to hold his own in English! Fortunate given the standard of my Italian.
🎥Watch or 🎧listen, the choice is yours! Enjoy!
The Girolamo Russo estate was founded in 2005 by Giuseppe Russo, in memory of his late father. The family are native of Passopisciaro, one of the key villages at the heart of the rebirth of Etna’s most important grape variety, Nerello Mascalese.
This is the north face of Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna, in the north-eastern corner of Sicily.
The Russos have 26 hectares of land in and around Passopisciaro, with 15 hectares of vineyards surrounded by olive and hazelnut groves. The vineyards are high up, between 650 and 780 metres above sea level, inland from the beautiful town of Taormina. Many of the free-standing bush vines are over 80 years old, surviving in harmony with Etna’s black, mineral-rich volcanic soil.
Giuseppe works the vineyards organically and makes the wines himself. He vinifies each parcel separately, seeking out their individual identities in a series of wines that reflect the diverse character of their terroirs.
Some lava flows are very recent, too recent even to plant on.
The area is broken up into sectors known as ‘contradas’. Each contrada has a name and is linked to one of Etna’s townships.
So San Lorenzo – which is the largest and highest contrada the Russos own vineyards in – is close to the town of Randazzo.
Feudo is nearby, also near Randazzo, whereas Feudo di Mezzo is closer to Castiglione di Sicilia.
Due to its positioning on the layers of lava, ash and other volcanic soils, each contrada has its own character.
In the same way, the wines that are made from each contrada vary as they reflect these differences in terroir.
The other aspect that makes these vineyards so special is way that the local farmers – or contadini – have worked the vines through time. These are difficult vineyards to cultivate. Often comprised of narrow terraces held in place by dry-stone walls, the plants have to be able to live in mineral rich but sometimes very dry conditions. It often does not rain in summer here.
Traditionally the best system for keeping the vines alive here was to grown them as bush vines, ad alberello: as free-standing ‘little trees’ that could find their own balance in these soils and that are cared for by hand.
Each plant is pruned, hoed and tied individually.
More modern systems have seen these alberelli adapted to be trained onto wires, but the principle remains the same. Giuseppe Russo and his small team of co-workers cultivate the vines by hand, using natural fertilizers sporadically and spraying against disease and pests following organic principles.
That’s how he’s always done it, from the time he used to follow his father into the vineyards as a young boy.
Giuseppe left for a time, trained as a pianist and music teacher, and studied literature, but after his father’s death he came back to what he now recognizes is the central theme of his life: making the best wines he can in this exceptional, often challenging but uniquely beautiful area, an area that is now attracting winemakers from the all over the world but that to Giuseppe and his family has always just been home.
I thought I’d share these three maps to help you get your head around Etna and it’s place in Sicily. The first map gives you the big picture. The second highlights the general area planted on Etna, mostly South to South-East facing. The third shows most, but, not all of the Contrada (single vineyards) and their relative elevations.
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Girolamo Russo - cantina vitivinicola, Via Regina Margherita, Passopisciaro, Province of Catania, Italy