|~ Positano, Amalfi Coast ~
Home to dramatic ocean vistas, breathtaking panoramas, and foreboding landscapes; whether it’s the Bay of Naples, the wonder of the Blue Grotto, or the dominating presence of Vesuvius, the Province of Campania is one of the most charming and picturesque regions in Italy.
Rich with history, culture, romance and gastronomy the region lays claim to the creation of two of Italy’s most prized creations; Pizza and Limoncello. That notwithstanding, Campania abounds with glorious seafood, lamb and pasta dishes which pair wonderfully against the region’s wines. Often obscured by their more popular northern counterparts, Campania’s wines are rustic, soulful, unique and deserving of attention.
A notable portion of my ancestry has its genesis from in and around Naples, so these wines have always occupied a special, little corner of my heart. Today, we’re spotlighting a few wines from the region.
|~ The Bay of Naples with Mt. Vesuvius prominently dominating the landscape ~
Founded in 1986, Feudi di San Gregorio is one of the regions leading and largest producers of indigenous wine. With vineyards scattered around the area of Avellino, Feudi di San Gregorio produces a wide array of wines from their 740 acres of owned vineyards. We began with what is perhaps the regions classic white wine.
The 2008 Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo is a wonderful version of this DOCG white wine. Comprised entirely from the indigenous Greco grape, the wine is medium gold in color with a clear appearance.
On the nose, notes of lemon peel, citrus and chalky minerals dominate. The flavors follow the aromas with clean punctuation. The acids provide wonderful freshness and lift while a mild salinity cleanses the finish. Vinified in stainless steel, the wine spent four months in contact with the lees before being bottled. We paired this as an aperitif with tangy buffalo mozzarella, and crostini topped with pureed white beans infused with a rosemary oil. A sublime combination. 89 points. Wonderful value around $15.
|~ Greco di Tufo is comprised 100% of the Greco grape ~
The Taurasi DOCG is perhaps the regions most notable red wine. Brought to fame by the renowned Mastroberardino House, the wine earned promotion to DOCG status in 1993. With only 800 acres under vine, production is somewhat limited and averages about 40,000 cases per vintage. DOCG rules mandate that Taurasi be produced from a minimum of 85% Aglianico while the balance can be comprised of other approved red grapes. Often called the “Barolo of the South” for its restrained power and notable longevity, while I enjoy Taurasi, I don’t believe the comparison is at all apt.
The 2006 Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi is 100% Aglianico. Vinified in stainless steel, the wine spent 18 months in French barrique and about 10 months in bottle prior to release. We decanted the wine for 60 minutes before serving with roasted leg of lamb.
In the glass, the wine is a deep purple color that lightens to violet at the rim of the bowl. The nose is dominated by white pepper, spices, black plums and earth notes. Long, rich legs are noted on the glass. Full bodied with tobacco, toasted oak, black fruits and grilled meat on the palate. This is very rustic and powerful. Needs cellar time to come together and soften because without the meat, the tannins clamp down firmly on the finish. 92+ points, but cellar for 5 years. Great value around $26.
|~ Feudi’s Taurasi is 100% Aglianico ~
The final wine from Feudi di San Gregorio could colloquially be referred to as a “Super Campanian”. Although the wine is produced predominantly from the Aglianico grape, the grapes are grown in the historic “Dal Re” vineyard which lies outside the production zone for Taurasi. As a result, the wine bears the Irpinia DOC designation.
The 2010 Serpico is 98% Aglianico and 2% Piedirosso. Vinified in stainless steel, the wine spends 18 months in French barrique and 12-15 months in bottle prior to release. I’ve had prior experience with this wine and so decided to decant the 2010 for 2 hours.
The wine is nearly black in the decanter, but in the glass presents a deep ruby that fades to a lighter ruby at the rim. Cured meats and white pepper with toasted spices dominate the nose in this backward wine. With aeration some floral, lily notes emerge. On the palate, this wine is lean, much leaner than I would have expected. Medium bodied with subdued red fruits and spices that follow the nose. This seems tough to judge and maybe it needs a decade in the cellar, but this was disappointing. 87 points, about $35.
|~ My remaining bottles are buried deep in my cellar. Do the same! ~
With their home on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, the vines that give the grapes for Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio are steeped in lore and legend. Lacrima Christi, or literally the “Tears of Christ”, is said to get its name from Christ crying tears over the land due to Lucifer’s fall from heaven. In turn, the land was blessed with divine inspiration which has nurtured the vines along the inhospitable slopes of Vesuvius.
The De Angelis family have been producing wines in Campania since 1936. The family hand harvest every inch of their tiny 6 hectare estate and produce about 300,000 bottles of wine per year.
The 2012 De Angelis Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio is produced from 60% Piedirosso and 40% Aglianico grown on the slopes of Vesuvius near Sorrento. Planted in 1994, the vines are thriving in the volcanic and mineral rich soil.
In the glass, the wine is a deep ruby to violet color. Smoke, ash, tar and tobacco dominate the nose with quite a bit of earthy funk. On the palate, the bright red plummy fruit is well pronounced and very attractive given the lack of fruit aromas. On the finish, some pine and floral notes emerge and quite a bit more tannic grip than I would have expected. I’d cellar this for a year or so as well, or perhaps decant it for an hour next time. 87 points, about $19.
|~ Nice value considering the weight and complexity here, but cellar or decant for the best experience ~
|~ The Blue Grotto is simply breathtaking ~
What happens when a passionate woman who wants to make world class wine from her hometown forms a partnership with one of the world’s most sought after winemaking consultants? Montevetrano!
Silvia Imparato had always been around wine, but it wasn’t until 1985 when she decided to turn her hobby into a mission to rebuild her family’s ancient vineyards. Her estate is a tiny 12 acres and her production a mere 30,000 bottles, but with her joining forces with Riccardo Cotarella, the pair have realized giant results.
|~ Proprietor Silvia Imparato ~
Montevetrano takes its names from a medieval castle that dates to the Roman empire. Formerly a property of French royalty, the blending of the two cultures was the original inspiration for the wine which marries Cabernet Sauvignon with Aglianico.
The 2010 Montevetrano Colli de Salerno is a classic in waiting. We decanted the wine for 60 minutes before pairing it with lovely grilled Karobuta pork chops and grilled potatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil and rosemary.
In the decanter, the wine is an opaque black color. In the glass, the wine takes on a deep violet color. On the nose, the aromas are filled with wild black cherry, ash, green Mediterranean herbs and pipe tobacco. It’s compelling to smell. On the palate, this is full bodied with ripe, structured cherry notes, cracked pepper, cured olive and spice flavors. This is not dreadfully tannic, but on the finish some of the tannins appear to be slightly bitter. This needs cellar time to come together and flesh out. After significant air time, the wine added richer fruit notes and plumped up along with the meal. Needs time. 92 points. About $55.
|~ Montevetrano is 50% Cabernet, 30% Aglianico and 20% Merlot. The wine is aged in French barrique for up to 14 months and then held in bottle for an additional 6 months prior to release ~
Have a favorite Campanian red? Leave a note in our comment section and we’ll discuss!