Feudi di San Gregorio

~ Irpinia is home to Feudi di San Gregorio ~

We are not Campania, we are Irpinia!  (Er-PEAN-yuh)

This is the local, territorial mindset that drives typicity and honors the land at Feudi di San Gregorio.

Irpinia is an ancient inland area whose vineyards were described by authors such as Pliny, Columella and Strabo. The topography of the region is very varied, with a succession of mountains, hills and plains divided by several rivers and streams.

This geography promotes a system of winds, often mercurial, that give the region ample rainfall and creates a micro-climate that sets it apart from other areas of Campania.  The scrub here is varied and thick; the short winters are extremely cold and often snowy, while the summers are mild and long. Everything is “tutto a posto” for growing excellent grapes.    This, is Irpinia.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ The large barrel aging room. Feudi uses both large botte and barrique in crafting their red wines ~

Founded in 1986, Feudi di San Gregorio is the largest family-owned winery in Southern Italy. Owned and managed by the Capaldo Family, the estate farms 740 acres of vineyards, made up of over 800 plots with varying altitudes and exposure. Utilizing the ancient pergola training system has enabled Feudi di San Gregorio’s ancient vines to survive for up to 200 years, withstanding the devastating Phylloxera spread of 1910.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ Look at this monster of a vine!  There is a story here…..  ~

The woman in the picture above is named Luigia.  She is an iconic representation of Feudi’s dedication to preserving old vines.  In this photo, she is standing next to one of the tallest ancient vines (at over 12’feet tall) in the “Dal Re” vineyard.   The vines from this vineyard are 150-180 years old and have survived the phylloxera era.

Surpisingly, she is not a relation of the Capaldo family.  Her family lovingly owned the vineyard for nearly one and a half centuries.  Before her passing, Luigia entrusted the vineyard to the Capaldo family, with their promise to keep its cherished history alive.  The Capaldos are doing just that.

Un Assaggio

For this article, I focused on a handful of the newest releases from Feudi di San Gregorio.  They are available on the market now.  In addition, as with my Feature on Il Poggione,  I curated questions from my readers on Twitter (X) to prepare for the interview with the President of Feudi di San Gregorio, Antonio Capaldo.  They are your questions.  This is your interview!

Selected Tastings

The first wines focused on were three of Feudi’s wonderful whites.   I have to say this at the outset.  While Feudi’s reds are excellent, I think compared to their fellow wineries, their whites are the best in the region.

The 2021 Falanghina is just lovely.  Pale straw color throughout.  On the nose, this is full of lemon grass, white flowers, gardenia and citrus notes.  On the palate, this is flinty, lemony but with a slightly bitter streak that only slightly dulls the mood.  Maybe you could ask for a bit more fruit?  But it’s picking nits.  87 points.  Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ We went through so much Falanghina in Amalfi, but this remains a special effort ~

Falanghina is best enjoyed as an aperitivo or alongside shellfish.  For this piece, we enjoyed it with the latter.

~ I made a classic Zuppa di Pesce as we enjoyed in Positano. It was a magical pairing ~

The 2022 Cutizzi Greco di Tufo is interesting from the bottle shape to the finish of the wine.  In the glass it’s a pale golden color throughout.  One the nose there’s loads  of  pineapple, nectarine, lemon oil and wet stones that are exceedingly pretty. 

The tropical notes and minerality character follow on the palate, but what one notices is the distinct difference in body compared to the Falanghina.  Presumably this comes from the 4-5 months the wine spends on the lees.  I do believe it’s also a nod to the slightly warmer 2022 vintage.  91 points. Find this wine.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ Greco di Tufo to me, is the most ancient expression of Campania ~

Finally, Fiano.  I don’t know what it is, but when it comes to what I store in my brain as the “Two F’s”  (Falanghina and Fiano)  I gravitate overwhelmingly toward the latter.  I’ve never really been able to pinpoint it, but I just feel like Fiano is more complex and has more body.   It reminds me of excellent Vernaccia.

At any rate, the 2022 Fiano di Avellino is a light gold in the glass.  Right from the start, aromas of white flowers, nectarine and honey are prevalent – with hints of tropical fruit too.  On the palate, this is fresh, lively and viscous.  Nectarine, white peach and trace volcanic minerals are so attractive.  I’d buy this wine by the case no problem and given the appealing price, that’s not hard to do.  92 points.  Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ As good as the other two whites are, this is my favorite ~

As attractive as Feudi’s whites are, so too are the bold reds offered by this estate.

The 2020 Rubrato is 100% Aglianico.  In the glass it shows a deep, bright berry color. Wild berry and white pepper on the nose evolve to similar flavors on the palate.  With some air, red berries and dusty cocoa join the mix.  Be patient here. A slight bitter streak emerges, but not enough to detract.  Such a nice value.  One thing more and more people relate to me is the desire for wines that are lower in alcohol. To that point, this is 13.5%.   Easily available around $17.   87 points.  Find this wine.

~ Another wine that is incredibly good value ~

Feudi crafts several different Taurasi.   A base, sort of “Estate” wine that is generally most prevalent. However, for this article I have one of their Cru Riserva wines.

The 2016 Piano di Montevergine Taurasi Riserva displays a potent nose of berry, lilly, cured meats, smoke and animale.  This is complex and all over the spectrum in terms of aromas.  In the mouth, the wine is smooth, with surprisingly mild tannic structure. Flavors of red berries, black plum, metallic iron/blood, white pepper and floral sweetness present themselves wonderfully.  Medium to full body, but this is very elegant.  Could use more cellar time. 

By law, this 100% Aglianico must be aged 4 years prior to release in order to earn the Riserva designation.  18 months, must be in wood.   Feudi di San Gregorio ages “Piano” for 18-24 months in large barrel and barrique and then up to 2 years in bottle.   92 points.   Find this wine.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ A brooding, dense Taurasi with a long life ahead ~

Finally, we have Serpico.  Serpico hails from a special vineyard on the Feudi Estate within the Taurasi area called  “Vigneto dal Re” or,  The King’s Vineyard.  This vineyard was spared from the phylloxera scourge and as a result, the ungrafted vines are well over 100 years old.  In this video, Antonio discusses how the vineyard came to “self regulate” and is now a sort of open air museum.

The 2016 Serpico is a dark purple in the glass.  However, be warned – this was shier than shy on the nose and needed a 2 hour decant.  In the alternative, leave it in the cellar for another 5-7 years.  Black plum, smoke, vanilla and toasted spices are prevalent.  Serpico spends more time in new oak barrique than does the Montevergine and it shows.

On the palate, this is bold and structured.  The intensity of the black fruit flavors seems directly related to the old vines.  Trace minerals, powdery white pepper, and hints of game come to the fore on the mid-palate.  Yet, this is unforgiving right now.  The tannins shorten much of the finish.   Right now, this is somewhere around 92-94 points.  But if you like this style – it is more oaky – and you have some patience, this could rise well above 95-97 points.  Find this wine.

Feudi di San Gregorio

~ Serpico is the pinnacle of Feudi’s production ~

Some Serpico food….   A truffled risotto adorned with seared duck breast.  In retrospect, I’d have gone with a thick, char grilled steak.

~ This was an amazing pairing, yet the wine still needs time ~

Now that we have delved into the wines, it is time to hear from Antonio!  Again, none of these questions were mine.  They all originated with you, my readers – across either Facebook or X (Twitter).

~ President, Antonio Capaldo ~

Intervista con Antonio Capaldo

TV:  Antonio, grazie for joining us today.  On behalf of my readers, I know that they appreciate the chance to hear directly from winemakers.

AC:  Giovanni,  it is a pleasure for me.  We are always waiting for you and your readers at Feudi di San Gregorio.  Allora…. let’s see what they have to say!

1) How long are your white wines built to age? They are great on release; is there a benefit to aging them?

AC – The Fiano and Greco grapes that grow on the highest hills of Irpinia—where our vineyards are located, above 450 mt altitude—are capable of creating white wines with great longevity. In my experience, they express their best after 3 to 5 years in the bottle, and they can age 15 to 20 years.

They benefit from staying longer in the bottle because upon immediate release, the complexity of the varietal is somehow “overwhelmed” by the grape’s high acidity. This acidity is the “shoulder” of the wine once it is bottled, and it supports the aging process. Then over time, other elements typical of the varietal emerge, providing a wonderful balance. In the case of Greco, this shows in the dark complexity which comes from its unique mineral soils; in Fiano, the palate has a wonderful width and a “roasted” aftertaste, typical of the varietal. The wines also become more versatile in food pairing when aged longer.

For Falanghina, I would say that the wine improves with some time in the bottle for the same reason, except that after 3 to 4 years, its wonderful aromatics—a distinctive trait of Falanghina (a varietal which does not have the same structure as Fiano or Greco)—tends to decrease. Therefore, Falanghina’s longevity potential is much shorter.

2) What is your feeling about oak in wines, specifically Aglianico? Do you feel Aglianico needs oak, or is it overdone?

ACNo varietal per se needs oak in my opinion. It all depends on what you want to express with the wine and the longevity and complexity you wish to transmit.

Harvested at the right time (in the case of Aglianico, easier said than done…given that we harvest in late October, usually with difficult weather), Aglianico grapes are incredibly sweet and rich, with important but delicate tannins. Our Rubrato is a wonderful expression of Aglianico without any oak aging.

I believe that when you want to express the complexity of this varietal over time –particularly for grapes coming from the highest hill of the appellation (over 500 mt altitude) where the level of acidity is very high at harvest – oak can help. However, our tradition and our future lie in using mostly large oak containers rather than barriques.

Furthermore, over the past few years I’ve distinctly experienced that time in the bottle is as important as time in oak, if not more so. This is why we release our Serpico, Taurasi, and Piano di Montevergine Taurasi Riserva after a very extended time in bottle (3 to 5 years) and a relatively short time in oak (1 to 2 years).

3) Do you make sparkling wine from Greco or Falanghina? Are they exported to US market?

ACWe applied Metodo Classico to Falanghina, Greco, and Aglianico (Rosé). We started this project over 20 years ago with the initial support of Anselme Selosse and we created the DUBL brand (the name comes from the idea of encounter and partnership). Over time, we dismissed Falanghina and focused on Greco (two wines: the DUBL Edition Brut and the DUBLESSE dosage zero) and Aglianico (again: the DUBL Edition Brut Rosé and the DUBLESSE rosé dosage zero). Given the mineral soils, high acidity, and complexity of these two varietals, we are achieving incredible results on these wines. They are currently not exported to the US.

When we decided to omit Falanghina from the DUBL project, we instead pursued a charmat project on this varietal, which is more adapted to preserve its aromatics and pleasantness. We therefore produce a Falanghina Charmat under the Feudi di San Gregorio brand (also not exported in the US).

~ In 2001, Feudi rebuilt their wine cellar ~

4) I was reading about FeudiStudi.   What type of trial and test is FeudiStudi?

AC – FeudiStudi is both an editorial and wine research program.

It all starts with the fragmented viticultural structure of Irpinia: here, historically, the property of land was owned by the Church and then donated to (or kept by) small individual farmers. There were no noble families with large estates, but rather each farmer owned a small piece of land and devoted a small portion of this land to viticulture, cultivating vegetables on the rest.

For example, Feudi owns 300 ha divided into almost 800 parcels, and the variety of soils, sun exposure, and the age of vines provides us with an incredible richness. Everything is vinified separately even if, later, we make assemblage to produce our wines.

In 2012, we decided that each year we will produce small volumes of wines outside our usual range in order to express the most extreme areas of each appellation (special soils, old vines, etc.). We decided to make four Greco, four Fiano, and three Taurasi wines. The vinification and ageing are totally homogenous for each varietal, perfectly expressing the land’s diversity.

Alongside our wine library that we are building (over 100 different wines since the start), we worked with a local, experienced journalist to produce an encyclopedia about Irpinia and its varietals. This eBook will be available soon on Amazon Prime.

Lastly, we bottled the FeudiStudi wines in the old Bordeaux format to set them apart, as it’s a unique project in Italy and the world.

TV  – Before we continue, I’ll interrupt here because Antonio, that is really cool.  I love Fiano. As I mentioned earlier, it’s my favorite of the three white varietals and to taste three different expressions, vinified exactly the same way in order to spotlight the terroir, would be a really cool tasting for me.

ACWhen you have wines like that – side by side – the differences can surprise you.  How the soil, exposition, altitude – how they all work with the fruit and the vine can be incredible.

5) What is new/next for Feudi di San Gregorio? Are there new wines? New plantings coming online?

ACThanks to our FeudiStudi work and the research on climate change which we are carrying out with two leading universities, we will continue to plant in new areas, mostly in higher elevations.

We have a new wine this year, a rosé named San Greg. It is made from 100% Aglianico and comes from the volcanic mountains of Irpinia, showing freshness, sapidity, and great structure.

6) What do you think the future holds for winemaking in Campania?  Is Taurasi the highest level of quality that the region can attain?

ACTaurasi is a great wine, but I believe the white wines—Fiano and Greco in particular—have even more opportunity for future development.  There are very few areas around the world with the same combination of soils, climate, altitude, and native grape varieties to produce such great white wines as we can in Campania.

7) Do you have vineyards outside of Campania? If so, where and what are the varietals?

ACYes, we are present in two other regions: in Basilicata with the winery Basilisco where we produce Aglianico del Vulture; and in Bolgheri (Tuscan coast), where we grow Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc together with Vermentino as a white varietal.

8) What wines outside of Campanian wines do you like to drink?  What do you drink if you’re not having wine?

ACthis is a fun question!  I love Riesling from Mosel and Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Of course, Champagne is also very appreciated.   If I am not having wine, which happens very rarely, I like saké and rum.

TV  – Well, Antonio, again thank you very much for your time and attention.  I really want to try to taste the Fiano wines from the Feudi Studi so maybe I’ll try to make that happen!

AC – Come to Campania Giovanni!

Tutti, thank you very much to my friends at Terlato who made this article happen.  I hope this invigorates you to delve more into the wines of Campania.


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