Pietro Russo, hailing from Marsala, Sicily, has attained the esteemed title of Master of Wine, becoming the third Italian to achieve this honor after Gabriele Gorelli and Andrea Lonardi. Sharing his educational journey with these predecessors, Russo, at 38 years old, solidifies his position as a distinguished oenologist within Italy and the global wine community. His roots in viticulture trace back to his familial connections, with his grandfather’s vineyard and his father’s role as an agrifood inspector shaping his early understanding of the industry.

After completing his scientific education, Russo pursued oenology and viticulture studies in Conegliano Veneto, Treviso, before delving into specialized training in Asti. His thirst for knowledge led him to international pursuits in Montpellier and Bordeaux, where he conducted research on Pomerol’s diverse terroirs. With a wealth of experience spanning regions like Languedoc, Spain, Tuscany, and New Zealand, Russo returned to Sicily in 2010 to contribute his expertise to the renowned Donnafugata winemaking team. Vittorio Ruggieri, President of Donnafugata, celebrates Russo’s achievement, praising his dedication and passion for Sicilian viticulture and expressing confidence in their joint efforts to elevate Sicilian wines on the global stage.

I had the pleasure of tasting some of the wines recently including the Sherazade Nero D’Avola Sicilia DOC, Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso, and the Ben Ryé Passito Di Pantelleria. The Nero D’Avola is surprising and perfect for aperitivo hour! It’s bright ruby red with fruitiness, hints of violets, black pepper, plum, and cherries. It’s a delightful wine that’s great for cheese boards, welcoming friends, and lighter dishes and is ideal for spring and summer sipping!

The Etna Rosso I enjoyed every much with a smoked flank steak! You can see the pairing on Instagram where I showcase how it’s done, and must say this pairing was a WINNER. This wine is elegant and delicious with hints of balsamic, white pepper, mint, and silky tannins. It’s amazing with smoky flavors and meats, but can also be paired with chicken wings, Mediterranean fare, and more.

The Ben Ryé is a very intense wine that’s absolutely incredible with fruity notes, apricot, candied orange, and fresh Mediterranean vibes. Made from Zibibbo (Moscato di Alessandria), there are some aromatic herbal notes to this wine which allow for all the complex layers of fruit and spice to play on the palate. It’s fresh and sweet and ideal for desserts and a cheese course after a lovely meal.

If you’re seeking some really fantastic wines to give, sip, or gift this spring and summer, these wines are an absolute must! Ideal for any occasion, Donnafugata offers a wide variety of wines for every palate looking for a bit of Southern Italian comfort.

Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!