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Girolamo Russo “Calderara Sottana” Etna Rosso 2020


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Girolamo Russo

Giuseppe Russo's dedication to the terroir of Mount Etna is encapsulated in his meticulous care for his vineyards, sprawled across diverse contrade on the volcano's northern slopes, near his hometown of Passopisciaro. His vineyards, situated between 650 and 780 meters above sea level, are home to ancient vines, with some nearly a century old, predominantly composed of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, and a sprinkle of Carricante. These are meticulously cultivated using organic farming practices and traditional bush training methods, allowing the unique characteristics of each parcel to express themselves vividly in the wines.

The estate's key parcels include San Lorenzo, known for its geological diversity and historical vines near Randazzo; Piano delle Colombe, cherished for its complex soils and coveted grapes; and Feudo and Feudo di Mezzo, where the ancient Greeks first introduced viticulture, with the latter serving as the vibrant heart of the estate. Additionally, Calderara Sottana stands out for its youthful energy derived from newly planted vines, yet rooted in the legacy of the oldest stocks, embodying a "new force but old soul." These distinct sites, influenced by the steady winds of Val Dèmone and the enriching touch of volcanic eruptions, contribute to the profound and expressive wines that Giuseppe Russo crafts, celebrating the untamed spirit and rich history of Etna's terroir.

Giuseppe Russo, a man whose roots are as deeply entwined with the volcanic soils of Mount Etna as the ancient vines he tends, is a testament to the transformative power of passion and heritage. Inheriting the family estate and its 12 hectares in 2004, he named it after his father, Girolamo, paying homage to the legacy and the land that shaped his journey. Initially set on a path far removed from winemaking, with a background in music and a PhD in literature, Giuseppe's destiny was irrevocably altered by the call of his homeland, Passopisciaro, during the burgeoning Etna renaissance.

Under the tutelage of pioneering vintners like Frank Cornelissen, Marco de Grazia, and Andrea Franchetti, Giuseppe absorbed invaluable lessons in patience, innovation, and the potential of Nerello Mascalese to produce wines of concentration and elegance. These mentors, coupled with the camaraderie unique to Etna's winemaking community, helped sculpt Giuseppe's approach to viticulture, one that harmonizes organic farming with traditional methods, allowing the "untamable energy" of Etna to resonate through his creations.

Giuseppe's wines, much like a meticulously composed symphony, embody the intricate balance between the rugged power of Etna and the refined elegance that only a sensitive and introspective artist can elicit. His involvement in the "I Suoli" project alongside Emiliano Falsini and Dante Pasqua further showcases his commitment to exploring the full spectrum of Etna's terroir, from sparkling wines made in the metodo ancestrale to ethereal reds that ascend beyond 1000 meters in altitude. In every bottle, Giuseppe Russo offers a piece of Etna's soul, a narrative of its past, and a glimpse into its future, making the wines of his domaine, named for his father, Girolamo, a heartfelt tribute to his heritage and the untamed beauty of his beloved volcano.

Etna Rosato: This cheeky pink number is crafted from 100% Nerello Mascalese, with a youthful zest from the young vines of San Lorenzo. It's vinified with the grace of a white wine, getting a gentle press before lounging in stainless steel to ferment and age, capturing the essence of Etna's spirited side.

Nerina Etna Bianco: A delightful ensemble of 70% Carricante and a merry band of 30% Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico, Minnella, and Coda di Volpe, all playing their parts from the stages of Feudo, San Lorenzo, and Calderara Sottana. After a brief 24-hour skin-contact flirtation and shunning malolactic fermentation, this white spends 6 months maturing in a stainless steel and used tonneaux duo, ready to serenade your senses.

San Lorenzo Bianco: From the high-altitude single vineyard stage of San Lorenzo at 750m, this 90% Carricante and 10% Catarratto and Grecanico blend performs a solo act amidst a red grape chorus. Skipping the malolactic vibe, it ages gracefully in seasoned barrique and tonneaux for 6 months, marking 2020 as its debut performance.

`A Rina Etna Rosso: "A 'Rina" translates to the sandy stage where this vibrant ensemble of Nerello Mascalese (94%) and Nerello Cappuccio (6%) from San Lorenzo, Feudo, and Calderara Sottana come together. It's not just any opening act; it's a well-orchestrated symphony from three distinct contradas, aged in Slavonian oak for 12 months, celebrating the harmonious blend of Etna's terroir.

Feudo Etna Rosso: This distinguished red, primarily ancient Nerello Mascalese with a whisper of Nerello Cappuccio, hails from the esteemed heights of Contrada Feudo (650-670m). From a grand 10-hectare vineyard, only the crème de la crème – a 1-hectare parcel of the oldest vines – makes the cut, aging for 18 months in seasoned Slavonian oak, embodying the soul of Etna.

Feudo di Mezzo Etna Rosso: This captivating red is a true expression of Etna's heart, with its roots deeply embedded in the volcanic soils of the Feudo di Mezzo contrada. A blend predominantly made up of ancient Nerello Mascalese vines, peppered with a few secrets in the form of Nerello Cappuccio, from an elevation where the air whispers tales of old at 650-700m. In most vintages this is the darkest and wildest of the contrada wines made by Giuseppe.

San Lorenzo Etna Rosso: Crafted almost entirely from the venerable Nerello Mascalese with a hint of Nerello Cappuccio, this regal red comes from the noble San Lorenzo contrada. Selected from the oldest vines across 8 hectares at 750-780m, this wine undergoes a natural fermentation process before spending 18 months in Slavonian oak. There's a certain herbal, minty quality which comes through in San Lorenzo that is unique to its origin, and it is often the lightest of the contrada reds on the palate.

San Lorenzo Piano delle Colombe: This exquisite, limited edition hails from a cherished plot less than a hectare, home to 80-year-old vines nestled in San Lorenzo at 750m, where the doves (colombe) play. Made exclusively from Nerello Mascalese, it's aged with finesse in 500-liter tonneaux and barrique for 18 months, a tribute to both the land and its feathered admirers.

The Mount Etna wine region, dramatically draped across three sides of the active Etna volcano in Sicily, is distinguished by its striking variation in elevation and the rich mosaic of volcanic soils. These unique conditions foster the cultivation of vines at altitudes ranging from a few hundred meters above sea level to over 1,000 meters, creating microclimates that yield wines of profound complexity and minerality. The region's wines, most notably those made from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese and Carricante grape varieties, are celebrated for their ability to capture the essence of Etna's fiery terroir in each bottle.

Mount Etna

Named for its pale color and hometown of Mascali, Nerello Mascalese is a rising star in the wine world. Indigenous to Mount Etna, it was overlooked for decades until recently the world has taken notice of the elegant yet powerfully minerally wines produced on the volcanic slopes. Think halfway between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo.

Nerello Mascalese