Girolamo Russo "Nerina" Etna Bianco 2020
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Giuseppe Russo made a huge leap from being a pianist with a doctorate and an academic career to being a farmer. His father died of a heart attack in 2003 while working in the vineyard and Giuseppe decided not to sell the family vines. His timing was perfect, as a real renaissance of Etna wines was happening in nearby Passopisciaro. Even though Giuseppe had no winemaking skills when he took over, he was able to learn from people like Marco di Grazia and Frank Cornelissen. He seems to be very driven and a real perfectionist, so his wines have become quite acclaimed in the past few years.
The Etna Bianco he makes is one of the most complex and elegant wines I've had in a long time. Salty and opulent, with lots of fine-tuned mineral detail, it's got an unmistakable energy and presence that is at once contemplative and decadent. Mostly Carricante with some other local varieties, these white grapes are all interplanted in a vineyard of mostly red grapes, so pickers have to painstakingly hunt for the white grapes. Included in this are 100 year-old ungrafted vines that add some of the remarkable depth found in this wine. Steel fermentation, aged in a mix of older barrel and steel. My tasting notes just say "very, very good" at the end, which means at some point I just gave up picking apart the disparate elements and savored the wine in all its beauty. Jonathan Kemp