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Wine Plus Beer

Emily Johnston
August 1, 2018 | Emily Johnston

Industry Tasting of Volcanic Wines from Italy


On July 30th, wine industry professionals across Santa Barbara came to meet two winemakers hailing from Italy's southern volcanic  wine regions during a trade seminar on volcanic soil expression.  Giuseppe Russo-winemaker and founder of Girolamo Russo winery on the high elevation slopes of volcano Mt Etna- poured his sold-out, single vineyard Etna Rosso wines.  Some showed Burgundian finesse, while others were more reminiscent of Barolo with a cinder-laced, iron rich characteristic.

Andrea Piccin- second generation winemaker of Grifalco Winery in Basilicata- proved why his wine-making family was right to leave the relative comfort of Tuscany for an under-appreciated wine region in Italy's far South.  The vines are grown in an area previously inhabited by ancient volcanoes.  The wines were powerful yet balanced and showed a similar iron-rich, dusty ash characteristic. 

We are enamored by these volcanic wines and are featuring both the Girolamo Russo 'A' Rina' Etna Rosso, and the single vineyard 'San Lorenzo' Etna Rosso on our retail shelf.  The Grifalco 'Gricos' Aglianico del Vulture will be available by the glass.  Come try these and other volcanic wines from Southern Italy, Canary Islands, Napa, and Oregon to get your own take on volcanic expression in wine.


Girolamo Russo A' Rina Etna Rosso is made from Nerello Mascalese grapes planted on the northern slopes of Mt Etna at 2100-2600 ft elevation.  It is the complete expression of the Girolamo Russo production- including fruit from all of the single vineyards the winery farms.  It is fresh and balanced between cherry fruit and smokey undertones.

Girolamo Russo 'San Lorenzo' Etna Rosso 2015 is made from Nerello Mascalese grapes sourced from 60-100 yr old vines at an altitude of up to 2600ft.  This vintage of San Lorenzo comes across as the most Burgundian in style of the Girolamo Russo single vineyards and expresses delicate fruit flavors nuanced with sanguine, iron flavor and cinder undertones.  The single vineyard crus from Girolamo Russo show the Etna region's potential to compete with the finest wine regions of Italy.

Grifalco hails from the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy.  Aglianico shows its best on the volcanic soils of Basilicata and nearby Campania.  The grape's tannic structure draws comparisons to nebbiolo in Barolo.  However, Grifalco winery works to manage the tannic nature of the grape and makes wines that are approachable in their youth.  The Gricos bottling is the most approachable, with vibrant red and black cherry aromas, dusty tannnins and an ashy undertone.


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