Carlo is one of the most famous winemakers in Italy largely due to his extensive work researching the many clones of Sangiovese. He is also the winemaking consultant for many of the top wineries in Italy including the likes of Castello di Neri, Fonterutoli, Brancaia, Romitorio, Talenti (and many more).
We first met Carlo Ferrini in Brunello di Montalcino last year and it was a very memorable visit – not just for his wines but also for having the opportunity to visit his newly purchased vineyards. He took us off-road, through mountain dirt tracks and round the hills of Montalcino in order to show us his single site Montalcino vineyard – a secluded spot with fantastic exposition facing Mount Amiata. This is where he produces his Giodo Brunello di Montalicino, an elegant yet powerful Brunello made in minuscule quantities, producing around 3000 bottles.
What is special about the Giodo range of wines is that these are Carlo’s own projects from vineyards he has bought himself. After spending years working the many terroirs throughout Italy he has identified special sites that he has personally invested in because he believes they have incredible terroir expression for the wines he wants to produce.
His latest release comes from his new project on Mount Etna producing wine from vineyards planted at a staggering 950 metres altitude. We tasted the wine for the first time a few weeks ago and we were so impressed we got back in touch with Carlo to ask more about his new Etna project.
Why did you want to make wine in Etna?
After 15 years as consultant for three wineries on Etna Volcan, I fell in love with single-grape variety Nerello Mascalese wines.
What are the specific characteristics about Etna wine that is so special?
Height, northern exposure to the sun and a black soil rich in pumice stone. Etna provides the one single ideal exposure to the sun for Nerello Mascalese. And its soils are the only ones where you can walk more easily after a rainstorm!
What is the classic profile of an Etna wine (white and red?)
How often do we hear about wines with a mineral taste? Wines from this area really have that mineral note when you taste them, both the white and the red ones.
How does its style / flavour profile compare with other Italian wine or wines from outside of Italy?
Elegance, elegance, elegance.
You produced your wines outside of the Etna DOC area, can you tell us more?
I bought seven small land lots, each of them with olive trees, fruit trees and 80-to- 100-year-old pre-phylloxera vines trained with the "gobelet" method ("alberello in Italian, meaning "little tree"). I discovered only later on that these lots were not part of the Etna DOC appellation, as they were all located 950 mt. above sea level, higher than what is authorised by the DOC regulations. But the vines were all really wonderful and the grapes they produced simply extraordinary. I do hope that in the future the boundaries of the DOC area will be defined by quality and not by past decisions which I think are no longer suitable.
What winemaking did the wine have (oak maturation? / new oak? / cold soak? Etc.)
Vinification is made in open steel tanks, pomace is punched down and not pumped over, maceration is light, aging is done in small, non-invasive, 5-hl oak French barrels.
Do you follow a formula in all the wines you produce or is every vineyard,
Every single wine, area, and grape variety has its own history, but at the heart of everything there is the pursuit of elegance.
In particular to the Etna vineyard what is different?
Its height which is 950 mt. above sea level, the northern exposure to the sun, the age of its vines which are 80 to 100 years old and all this makes it possible to obtain unique fruit and wine body.
You are a man famous for working on the researching of Sangiovese clones – is there as much variation in Nerello Mascalese or is it less prone to genetic mutation?
In both cases it is necessary to look for the ideal plants or clones, in order to obtain fine, elegant and persistent wines.
How much time do you spend on Etna now that you have started the project?
One week per month.
Carlo Ferrini's Giodo Alberelli is available to buy here.