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Federica Turillo and Cesare Fulvio hard at work

Masseria del Pino

VigneronFederica Turillo and Cesare Fulvio
LocationRandazzo (Catania)
Size of Domaine1.7 ha
TerroirMediterranean climate. Volcanic basalt, north facing Etna slope. Terraced vineyard planted in a clos. 800m altitude.
ViticulturePractising organic, biodynamic and permaculture
View Masseria del Pino wines ↓

Our first wine from Sicily is a result of Nick and Cath regularly holidaying on the island over the past 15 years, and in the process gaining an in-depth knowledge of the region – thanks in no small parts to many late nights spent studying (drinking) the ebullient local wine scene in the legendary Cave Ox in Solicchiata, just north of Etna.

It was here that owner Sandro first showed them Masseria del Pino's Etna Rosso, prompting an immediate visit the next morning.

The place, the people, the wine, everything about Masseria del Pino was so special that Nick felt compelled to welcome our very first Italian wine!

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.

Cesare sporting his favourite hat (and cigar)

They renovated a small farmhouse (where silk was produced at one point) which came complete with its own traditional volcanic stone palmentos (macerating and fermenting vats) and an old press. Guided in the first few years by the old man who used to make the wine for the previous owners, they employ methods that have changed very little since wine was first made here in the 9th century. Recent archaeological studies of viticultural practices on Etna have only reinforced their view that the ancient ways of making wine here remain the best.

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.

Federica emptying the palmento and filling up the basket press

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.

At 14hh in 2017 (30% of the harvest was lost to birds with a good palate!), yields and overall production are tiny; 2800bts of their principal red wine, 800bts of rosé ("the best rosé in the world” per Cave Ox’s Sandro) and 600bts of their exceptional white made from carricante, catarratto and minella and aged half in oak and half in chestnut (we’re hoping to get a small allocation of their 2019).


The red wine called ‘I Nove Fratelli’ honours Cesare’s grandfather, one of nine brothers. Like all the wines it has the most beautiful label, designed by Federica who is a talented artist. It is notable for its relatively low 14% alcohol (many Etna reds are picked late and have 15% plus alcohol) with a supreme balance and incredible depth to the fruit, good acidity, fine-grained tannins and intense mineral vibration. Their 2018 rosato made from a slow press of whole bunches is exquisite, with a lower 13% alcohol, more acidity and the trademark volcanic terroir print.

There’s an exciting new cuvée coming soon as well called Sang Real, that emanates from a tiny parcel closer to Bronte than Randazzo at a giddy 1200m altitude. Federica and Cesare were contacted for help by an old man and his two sisters who were no longer able to look after their vines, and Federica now does the necessary work in their vineyard. Made from 75yo garnacha and aged in a chestnut barrel specially made from their own 100yo trees, 1000bts of this delicate, racy wine were made in 2018 and bottled without sulphur.

Masse 1 4
The Nebrodi mountains to the north...
... and the Mount Etna to the south

Masseria del Pino Wines

I Nove Fratelli
90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio
90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio (14% alc.)
(14% alc.)

Made from 120 to 140yo vines on the ancient terraces of a north facing clos at 800m altitude above Randazzo. Working organically and tending the vines meticulously, Cesare and Federica bring in a minute yield (averaging 14hh) into their palmento (winery) and after destalking trod the grapes by foot in ancient vats made of volcanic basalt. An open-air fermentation begins, the cap is punched for a few days, then it’s not touched bar keeping the cap moist for the rest of the cuvaison, after which the wine is decanted off into one 300ltr and five 600ltr barrels, with the solids pressed and added, and the wine then remains until bottling after partial filtration 16 months later. These primitive techniques have changed little since vines first appeared in Contrada Pino in the 9th century, and one can imagine this is what the wine might have tasted like back then. It is a profound Etna Rosso, very close to the grapes, richly flavoured with black cherry, balsamic spices, and a fresh-laid-tar suggestion often found in young Barolo but with a lovely acidity keeping everything in focus. Its gripping, yet silty-fine tannin is a trademark of wines from Contrada Pino and there is much more freshness and energy than you find in many Etna Rosso that weigh in at 15% or more.

Super Luna
90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio
90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio (13.5% alc.)
(13.5% alc.)

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.

Caravan Petrol
55% Carricante, 20% Minella, 20% Catarratto + others!
55% Carricante, 20% Minella, 20% Catarratto + others! (12% alc.)
(12% alc.)

Caravan Petrol is a famous Neapolitan song – used here as a reference to the success of Etna wines and big brands that have gone on a buying and planting spree in the area. Federica's label is a dig at this gold rush and the DOC body that promotes it: the seven deputies on the DOC committee are depicted riding their camels on a desert Etna. The 140yo ungrafted vines are scattered among the nerellos and some of them are so ancient that the varieties are unknown. The whole bunches are slowly pressed in two 500ltr barrels for fermentation and ageing – one French Taransaud and one made by a local tonnelier from the farm's 100yo chestnut trees. Bottled in June the following year, no SO2 was added at all. Such a unique wine that combines power and gras with salty acids, moreish honeydew melon aromas and lengthy herbal aftertaste. We hear the local Eric Narioo (Vino di Anna) and his mate JF 'Fanfan' Ganevat are big fans.

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