Girolamo Russo, 'a Rina, 2015, Etna DOC, Sicily, Italy MAGNUM
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Nerello Mascalese is a delicate, complex grape that needs a diligent hand. Kind of ideal for winemaker Giuseppe’s thoughtful, methodical style. His vineyards are planted on ancient lava flows known as ‘contradas’, each with its own character and soil makeup. Underground pockets allow water retention, keeping the vines hydrated during the heat of the summer.
At 32, Giuseppe Russo was a classical pianist and doctor of letters who knew nothing about making wine. Then his father, Girolamo, died of a sudden heart attack while working in the family vineyards. Giuseppe decided not to sell the land, and threw the same diligence and lack of ego that made him a great pianist into the business of making wine. Now past his 10th vintage, the softly-spoken, unassuming Sicilian is one of the most acclaimed winemakers on Mount Etna, though you wouldn’t know it to talk to him. "I am a farmer," says Giuseppe simply.