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Masseria del Pino, Super Luna, Etna Rosato, 2022

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Federica and Cesare left their life in Catania in 2005 (where she worked as an archery teacher and he as an airline pilot) in search of a simple, peaceful, hard-working lifestyle and purchased this tiny, unique 1.7ha clos planted with 120-140yo vines in the Contrada del Pino.

Located on the slopes of Mount Etna at 800m, uphill from Randazzo, this is the highest altitude at which nerello mascalese and cappucio can reliably and consistently ripen. They also have 400 ancient olive trees (from which they produce three exceptional olive oils from the san benedetto, coratina and brandofino cultivars), chestnut and oak trees, a vegetable garden, sheep, dogs, chicken... Among the vines you also find many fruit trees – cherry, pear, plum, fig, peach, apple. This is Etna in all its pastoral serenity with the sight, scents and sounds of the volcano to stimulate the senses.

Viticulture here eschews herbicides, fungicides, pesticides but they don't follow any prescribed rules. The health of the vineyard is paramount, and they also never buy in rootstock, grafted vines or young plants from nurseries which could introduce problems, instead practising marcottage, when a long branch is buried, sprouts its own root system and forms its own new vine. Moreover, 90% of the vines are planted on their own rather than being grafted onto American rootstock. The vines radiate good health, helped by a mix that Cesare and Federica make themselves from organic fertiliser, cow dung, ash, molasses and minerals, which they ferment then spray.

Winemaking is straight forward, grapes are currently destalked for the red and foot trodden in open vats (but from 2019 all their wines will be made from whole bunches), ageing takes place in old 500ltr barrels for 16 months and bottling is done with partial filtration (just the wine at the bottom of each barrel) and next to no added sulphur up to 2017, none from 2018 onwards.

The farm and vineyard at Masseria del Pino are surrounded by ancient woods where abandoned vines have returned to their liana-like natural state (lambrusque); climbing up to the canopy a few meters high they still produce grapes. Federica and Cesare usually wait for a full moon (super luna) to kick off the harvest, they pick these 'wild' grapes (40 to 50kg) from 4am, under the moonlight, and make a pied de cuve with them. They add this to tiny yields of directly pressed grapes to produce just 800bts of this exquisite rosé. It’s harvested a little earlier than the red for lower alcohol and higher acidity. Cuve aged and bottled in May the wine has a strawberry red colour, cherry and pomegranate fruits with a thrilling mineral vibration that only volcanic terroir can confer. No added sulphur. The label designed by Federica is just beautiful too.

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