Girolamo Russo 2020 'Nerina' Etna Bianco, Mt. Etna, Sicily, Italy
Giuseppe Russo is a quiet thoughtful young man, formerly a pianist. Since 2005 he has been organically farming his family's old vineyards, many of the vines around 100 years of age, and he is restoring the old cellar under his house. He has 15 hectares of vines on the Northside of Etna around the town of Passopisciaro and sells off the fruit from the youngest vines to other producers. He is currently producing his 2000 case production from only 7 hectares of old vines.
Winemaker: Giuseppe Russo
Varieties:70% Carricante, 30% Catarratto/Inzolia/Grecanico/Minnella
Terroir: Mount Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano and home to some of the world's most interesting vineyards. Vines here are planted Albarello (little trees), they are not trellis-trained. He has 15 hectares of vines on the North side of Etna around the town of Passopisciaro. Russo’s ‘Nerina’ is a rich blend of Carricante, Catarratto and other local varieties. Several of the vines used for this wine are over 100 years old, which adds incredible concentration and depth.
Vinification: Controlled low temperature fermentation in 70% steel and 30% tonneaux with indigenous yeasts
Aging: 6 months in 70% steel and 30% tonneaux, on the lees
Tasting Notes: This medium-plus bodied, white blend is medium bodied and intensely mineral, with notes of fresh yellow apple skins, jasmine blossom, crushed gooseberry and a lasting lush tropical finish.
From our January 2021 Bottle Club Notes (2019 vintage Nerina)
While one of Europe’s southernmost wine growing regions, Sicily is also home to one of Italy’s coldest grape-growing regions. Mt. Etna is still very much an active volcano, one that juts out a whopping 11,000 feet (!) from Sicily’s eastern shores, above the city of Catania. Most vines on Etna are planted below the 3,500ft mark, seeing as that it simply gets too cold for grapes to reach maturity above that point. Even in the height of summer, when the beaches of Catania soar above the 100°F mark, vineyards on Etna are likely sitting at a cool 45-60°F, and generally see a fair smattering of cloud cover and windy days. The overwhelmingly volcanic soils here are also very well-draining, ideal for fostering older vines that must struggle to find water. As long as the vines don’t end up in the path of errant lava-flow, they can produce incredibly minerally and layered wines.
Girolamo Russo has been one of our favorite Italian producers since Day 1 at DECANTsf. Beyond their cute, whimsical labels, the wines are always astoundingly delicious!
Founded in 2005 by Giuseppe Russo in memory of his late father, a lifelong grapegrower, the winery is relatively young in Etna’s winemaking history. Located on the northern slopes of the volcano, surrounded by some of Etna’s most famous producers, Giuseppe has wasted no time showing his neighbors what he is capable of. This bottling, called Nerina, is a true blend of Etna’s various white grapes, including Catarratto, Inzolia, Grecanico and Minnella. Organically farmed, Giuseppe ferments the wine in a blend of stainless steel and neutral large barrels (tonneaux), providing a bit of texture and weight to balance out the very minerally and acid-driven cut of Etna’s volcanic white grapes.
Pair this wine with a comforting bowl of linguine and clams, or broiled swordfish with lemon and herbs. And if you take a visit to Sicily when this is all over, which you should, be sure to order this bottle when chowing down on the fresh catches found in Catania’s famous fish market!