Posts tagged ‘greco di tufo’
Cork of Villa Raiano, one of Campania’s finest wine estates (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
I love the white wines of Campania, so it was a great pleasure to be invited to Bianchirpinia 2012, which was held in Avellino recently. This event, centered around anteprima tastings of the new releases of the 2011 vintage of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, along with producers visits and dinners, showed both the quality and variety of these lovely wines and reaffirmed in my mind that these are among Italy’s finest whites.
While there were also a few other wines – such as Coda di Volpe and a few examples of Falanghina – tasted those days, Greco and Fiano were the primary focus. These two wines, produced from vines that are comprised of mixed soils – including volcanic deposits – are wines that beautifully display a sense of place. As most producers opt not to mature these wines in wood, the aromatic profiles of each stand out, with Greco delivering more lemon and pear aromatics (along with a pleasing note of almond in the nose and the finish), while Fiano is more identified (for me, at least) by more exotic fruits such as kiwi and mango along with lime and ripe pear (these notes of tropical fruit were more common in a warmer year such as 2011).
Another difference is with aging potential, as Greco tends to drink best within five years of the vintage date, while that increases to seven or more with Fiano. Indeed Fiano is a bit fatter on the palate with a more lush finish, while Greco tends to be more reserved with slightly higher acidity (in some cases) as well as having a bit more minerality. These estimates about aging are general of course and it’s always a treat to learn about a Greco or Fiano that shows well more than a decade out, such as the time earlier this year when I tasted the 1994 Greco di Tufo with owner Raffaelle Troisi at Vadiaperti at his cellars in Montefredane. Light yellow in appearance, here was a beautifully balanced wine with great freshness – I thought I was drinking a five year old wine, not one that was eighteen years old!
As for the particular qualities of the 2011s, this is a successful vintage with expressive fruit and very good concentration. If there is a criticism one can make of this vintage, it’s that the wines as a rule don’t have the acidity of the best vintages, such as 2010, 2009 or 2008. Sabino Loffredo, proprietor/winemaker at Pietracupa in Montefredane, explained to me that there wasn’t the usual rain in September in 2011, so grapes ripened more quickly. 2011 also has the misfortune of following 2010 which in Loffredo’s words, “is one of the finest vintages for Greco and Fiano of the last twenty years.”
So while I couldn’t give 2011 a 5-star rating, it is a solid 4-star (excellent) vintage for the best producers. Here is a short list of my favorite examples of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino from 2011:
Greco di Tufo
- Benito Ferrara
- Terrredora “Loggia della Serra”
- Bambinuto “Picoli”
- Mastroberardino “Nova Serra”
- Villa Raiano “Contrada Marotta” (5 stars – ottimo!)
- Sella delle Spine
- Feudi di San Gregorio “Cutizzi”
Fiano di Avellino
- Terredora “Terre di Dora”
- Villa Raiano “Ventidue”
Generally, I was more impressed with the examples of Greco di Tufo from 2011 than the versions of Fiano di Avellino, but perhaps the Fianos will show much better with another year or two in the bottle.
A few examples of Fiano from 2010 and 2009 were also tasted out; these wines showed beautifully, especially the 2010 Urciuolo (enticing aromas of peony, chamomile and lemon rind) and the Villa Diamante “Vigna della Congregazione”, which has been among my top two or three examples of Fiano every year, as this is routinely a great wine, with a lush, oily feel and outstanding persistence.
Also from 2009, the Joaquin “Vino della Stella” displayed excellent ripeness with aromatics of apricot, papaya, golden apple and saffron, while the Mastroberardino “More Maiorum” matured in wood, is a superb wine, with intriguing beeswax, lemon oil and bosc pear aromas backed by excellent persistence and ideal structure.
Regarding the recent 2012 harvest, Sabino Loffredo told me that while the year started off on a question mark, things improved during the growing season; in his words, 2012 could be quite a pleasant surprise. If Sabino says so, you know it’s true, so I’m excited about trying this new vintage when the wines are released in 2013.
It is vitally important for an event such as Bianchirpinia to continue, as it is an excellent showcase for Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, which in my mind are most certainly among the upper ranks of Italy’s finest white wines. Given that more artisan producers have started to make these wines over the past decade, the overall quality has never been higher. Great news for lovers of Italian white wine!
Thank you to Diana Cataldo of Miriade and Partners for the invitation to this event and for organizing an excellent two days in Irpinia.
Francesco Carfagna, Az. Agr. Altura, Isola del Giglio (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
As we turn the calendar from June to July, we come to the half way point of 2012. So I’d like to share a few thoughts on the best Italian wines I’ve tried this year, both from my three trips (Verona, Montalcino and Grosseto/Campania) as well as a few wines I’ve tried at home, while working on a special project. It’s been a great year so far with plenty of highlights!
Best Sparkling - Bellussi DOCG Superiore di Valdobbiadene Prosecco Ferghettina Extra Brut 2005
The Bellussi Prosecco (green label) is everything I look for in a Prosecco: excellent freshness, very good acidity and a richness on the mid-palate. This has excellent complexity. The Ferghettina is a multi-layered Franciacorta with tantalizing notes of caramel and honey that you rarely find in this wine type. It is an outstanding sparkling wine.
Best Whites – Several examples from Campania
I tasted so many first-rate whites during my visit to Irpinia in May; this is a tribute to the work of the producers as well as the quality of the fruit. A few highlights include the 2009 Villa Diamante Fiano di Avellino; 2011 Donnachiara Fiano di Avellino; 2011 Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino “Radici”; 2011 Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi”; 2010 Pietracupa Greco di Tufo and the 2010 Vadiaperti Greco di Tufo “Tornante“. All of these wines show wonderful varietal purity, perfect balance and a vibrancy that keeps these wines fresh and gives them longevity. I’ve been a fan of Campanian whites – especially Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino – for many years and based upon the examples I’ve tasted over the past two or three years, I have to rank these whites as among the very best in all of Italy!
Wild papaveri amidst the vineyards in Montalcino (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Best Reds – 2007 Brunello/ 2006 Brunello Riserva/ 2008 Barolo
So many great wines to choose from here; let’s start with the newly released examples of Brunello di Montalcino. Both 2007 and 2006 have been rated as 5-star (outstanding) vintages by the local consorzio with 2007 being more forward while 2006 is a more classic, tightly wound vintage that will need more time. I don’t have room to list all the great wines here, so a few highlights from the 2007 Brunello normale: Poggio di Sotto, Lisini, Fuligni, Sesta di Sopra and Sassodisole. For the 2006 Brunello riserva highlights include Biondi-Santi, Le Chiuse, Il Poggione “Vigna Paganelli”, Tassi “Franci”, Talenti and Citille di Sopra. As you can see from the photo above, Montalcino in May was the most beautiful viticultural area I have visited this year!
As for 2008 Barolos, this is shaping up to be a classic vintage, as temperatures that growing season were relatively normal, cooler than several recent years where conditions were quite warm. The 2008s have beautiful aromatics and acidity and display a sense of place in a far more direct way than the hotter vintages. I have only tasted about 20 examples so far, with several dozen to go, so my list is partial. But at this point, here are my favorite 2008 Barolos: Renato Ratti “Marcenasco”, Mauro Sebaste “Prapo”, Conterno-Fantino “Sori Ginestra”, Marcarini “La Serra” and Einaudi “Costa Grimaldi.”
I also have to tell you about a fabulous red wine I tasted at a wine fair near Grosseto back in May. I met Franecsco Carfagna, who with his family, farm a few acres on the island of Giglio in the Tyrrenhian Sea. His winery is called Altura and his estate red is called Rosso Saverio; it is a blend of about 15-18 varieties, both red and white, some of them well-known, such as Sangiovese and Canaiolo, others rather rare, such as Empolo, Biancone Giallo and Pizzutello (!). The result is a totally original wine, one that has aromas like a white wine (yellow peaches) at first, but then quickly reveals more typical red wine aromas, such as strawberry, dried cherry and notes of milk chocolate. Medium-full, this has amazing complexity as well as a velvety feel on the palate. The current vintage is the 2010, which is drinking beautifully now and should be in fine shape for the next 3-5 years. This is not a powerhouse Italian red, but one that shows what a dedicated producer with a vision can do. As I taste so many wines in my trips to Italy, it takes something special to get me excited – well, this is the wine! (Note: this wine is imported in the US in limited quantities by Louis Dressner.)
Best Older White – 1994 Vadiaperti Fiano di Avellino
Not only did I taste so many wonderful new white wines from Irpinia, there were also a few beautiful older versions as well. None was more eye-opening than the 1994 Fiano di Avellino from Vadiaperti. Proprietor Raffaelle Troisi was kind enough to open this wine for my friend and I at his estate and I am forever grateful for that decision! Light yellow in color, this looked like it might be four or five years old, not eighteen. The aromas were lovely – Anjou pear, honey, mango and magnolia blossoms and the wine tasted as fresh as it smelled. The finish was quite long with impressive persistence and distinct minerality. What a gorgeous wine – one that shows how wonderfully Campanian white wines can age!
Best Older Reds – Several at the Frederick Wildman Italian Portfolio Tasting
National importer Frederick Wildman held a tasting of their Italian producers in several cities across the US back in May and made a stellar decision to have the producers pour an older wine. They made it clear that these wines were not available any more, but how nice is it that they took this approach so one could witness first hand how wines such as Amarone, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and other wines age. Also, isn’t it great to be able to try these older wines, especially with the producers present? There were several outstanding wines, my favorites being the 1985 Le Ragose Amarone ( a stunning wine), the 1974 Barolo from Marchesi di Barol0 (a true classic) and the 2001 and 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from Le Chiuse (marvelous wines of grace, finesse and complexity – seamless wines that are perfectly balanced.) Thank you to these producers for showing these wines and thank you to the people at Frederick Wildman for offering this opportunity. Here’s hoping that more importers offer tastings such as this one!
Antoine Gaita, Villa Diamante (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
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Last week in Part One of this series on Campania whites (read here), I wrote about the wines of Donnachiara, Feudi di San Gregorio and Mastroberardino. In this post, I will deal with three artisan estates in Irpinia I visited during my recent trip.
At Villa Diamante in Montefredane, Belgian native Antoine Gaita began producing one wine in the mid-1990s at his tiny estate named for his American born wife Diamante. This wine has become legendary in Campania, a single vineyard Fiano di Avellino named Vigna della Congregazione, named as it was once property of the church. Gaita today produces only about 6000 bottles of this superb Fiano, which is aged in steel tanks and sees no oak.
I love the ripe fruit and texture of Fiano; this wine displays these qualities in great style. But it’s the richness and lushness of this wine that really impresses; this is about as full-bodied a Fiano as I’ve ever tasted. Yet, this is not an exercise in intensity, but rather a wine that combines impressive concentration with wonderful texture and a powerful finish of great length. This is why I get so excited about Campanian whites and about Italian whites in general; the sheer individuality of this wine is something to get marvel at. It’s a wine that many famous wine publications don’t even deal with; I can only guess they haven’t tasted it, as they’re too busy trying the latest red from Tuscany or Piemonte. I have to think that if they did try it, they’d praise the wine to the high heavens.
I was able to taste several vintages with Gaita and his wife; the 2010 shows a great deal of potential, but it’s a baby. The 2009 is a five-star (outstanding) wine for me, as it’s got that intensity along with amazing complexity. I describe the aromas as multi-dimensional with notes of apricot, quince, honey and pear, while there is a generous mid-palate and a lengthy finish with excellent persistence. Gaita told me we were going to try the various versions of this wine, “the Sauvignon Blanc, then the Chardonnay and then the Riesling,” and he was spot on with his descriptions, as different vintages did seem to offer those characteristics. It’s this chameleon-like nature of this wine that makes this one of Italy’s – and the world’s – greatest white wines. One final note; for the 2009, I scribbled down 7-10 years for peak consumption, but I’m thinking now, I may be a bit conservative in that estimation.
Raffaele Troisi, Vadiaperti (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Also in Montefredane, less than a mile away, Raffaele Troisi makes lovely Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo at his Vadiaperti estate, which was established in 1984 (Montefrdane, by the way, is in the Fiano di Avellino zone; Troisi also works with vineyards in Prata and Montefusco in the Greco di Tufo zone).
Troisi, make no mistake, is a farmer at heart, just like thousands of other producers throughout Campania and all of Italy, for that fact. He takes great pride in his work in the fields and follows that up with his approach in the cellar. He was kind enough to arrange a tasting of eleven white wines for my guest and I on the day we visited with him; this was much more than we expected, but we loved every minute of our meeting, as Troisi told us about his various wines – new releases and older offerings – with great conviction.
Along with Greco and Fiano, Troisi is also working with the Coda di Volpe grape. Best known as the primary variety in Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, the ultra popular white wine for tourists that crowd the open air trattorie of Napoli, Coda di Volpe is not generally regarded as a “serious” variety. Yet in the hands of a precise vintner such as Troisi, Coda di Volpe can yield quite a complex wine; his 2011 offering lemon, stone fruit and almond perfumes, impressive concentration and a light minerality in the richly detailed finish. This is a wine to be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years, but instead of the lightest seafood, this is a wine that can stand up to fattier fish and even lighter poultry, it’s also marvelous as a starter white for many meals.
His versions of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino are so admirable for their varietal purity as well as their subtle manner; these are not powerhouse wines, but ones of notable restraint. Their natural acidity is a dominant feature here, meaning you immediately want to try another glass. Troisi makes two special bottlings that are among the region’s finest; the first, a Fiano labeled as “Aiperti” that has beautifully appealing honey, mango, pear and magnolia aromas and a seductive finish with a subtle hint of almonds. The second wine is a Greco di Tufo labeled as “Tornanate” that has inviting lemon peel, lime and chamomile perfumes backed by excellent concentration and lively acidity as well as distinct minerality. Here is a wine that is pure Greco in its flavors and presentation and teases you with its promise of greatness some five to seven years down the road. While I always think of Fiano as the bigger of the two wines, it’s Greco that tends to reveal more of itself with time, a rather nice quality of this variety.
Troisi also treated us to some older bottles of Fiano di Avellino and if I had any doubts about the potential of this wine to age (which I really didn’t), they were wiped away with these wines. The 2004 has dried pear, herbal tea and sassafrass aromas, admirable ripeness and excellent persistence. It’s still a young wine, very delicious and I don’t expect it to be at peak for another three to five years.
Then there was the 1994 Fiano di Avellino, a wine that showed the promise of this great area. Deep yellow in color (though not as deep as one might expect for an 18-year old white), this combined dried pear and honey aromas with notes of caramel and dried yellow flowers. Medium-full, this was actually a fresher wine than the 2004, though a touch lighter on the palate. The finish has subtle notes of honey; overall the wine displays lovely finesse and elegance – what a light touch Troisi displays in his winemaking. Here’s a wine that I think will peak in another two or three years, meaning that you’ll have a 20 year old Fiano di Avellino at peak condition!
Of course, any white that ages this long has to be expensive, correct? Well this isn’t white Burgundy, so you don’t have to take out a loan; as the current 2011 vintage retails for about $25 on American retail shelves, one can only imagine what this 1994 costs when it was released back in 1996. Again, here’s a wine that the Parkers and Sucklings of the world too often ignore- perhaps it’s because they don’t understand it or think their readers don’t care about it – believe me, there are enough of us that do. It’s a great wine, so thank you Raffaele for such a lovely tasting!
Sabino Loffredo, Pietracupa (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
My final visit was an all-too brief meeting with Sabino Loffredo, the proprietor of Pietracupa, also situated in Montefrdane. Loffredo comes to America each February for the Tre Bicchieri tasting of Gambero Rosso (he’s been honored with this award many times, deservedly so), but as he doesn’t have an importer in Chicago, I always miss out on meeting him during his time in America.
I almost missed him again in Campania, as he wasn’t in the winery the day I was in Montefredane and I was scheduled to leave the area the following day. He was kind enough to meet me for a few minutes on my travel day so he could introduce himself and his wines. While our conversation was brief, I was able to taste both his 2010 Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo and am I ever glad I had the opportunity!
His Fiano is a brilliant light yellow with intriguing aromas of Bosc pear, sassafrass and cinnamon (!); I can’t say I’ve really found a set of aromas such as this in any other Fiano. Meanwhile, the Greco di Tufo displayed perfumes of mango, melon, mint and acacia flowers – here is a wine that has great focus! Certainly the allure of these Pietracupa whites are their uniqueness, which comes from the soils in which the grapes are grown. These are true terroir-driven wines and while that term is rather casually tossed about these days, these wines are first-rate evidence of how climate and soil affect a wine. Both wines are outstanding in my opinion and will be at peak in five to seven years.
Sabino told me that he always wants to meet with someone such as myself at his estate so he can explain his wines and his territory. Based on these highly individualistic offerings, I know that I’ll get a great understanding into what makes a brilliant Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino when I sit down with Sabino during my next trip to Campania. I know it won’t be too many more months from now and frankly, I can’t wait!
I have just returned from Campania where I toured vineyards in the Avellino province, home to two DOCG whites, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. The province is more commonly referred to by vintners and wine writers as Irpinia, its ancient name.
While Irpinia is also home to a famous DOCG red – Taurasi, produced from Aglianico – many believe this province is best suited to white varieties. Much of this has to do with the rainfall, which moderates temperatures, thus providing acidity and structure in the wines. The cool climate also benefits white grapes, assuring a long growing season, which in turn yields wines with more complex aromatics.
There are nine towns approved for vineyards for the production of Greco di Tufo, including Tufo, Santa Paolina and Montefusco. The name of the town of Tufo comes from the tufaceous soil, which is a yellowish clay that is easily broken up. Below is a photo of the Cutizzi vineyard of Feudi di San Gregorio, located in San Paolo, a frazione of Tufo. You can easily see the makeup of the tufo soil in this vineyard, one of the finest in the zone.
As for Fiano di Avellino, there are 26 towns where vineyards are permitted for production of this particular white, yet total acreage in this area is less than the nine towns of Greco di Tufo. The major towns for Fiano di Avellino include Montefalcione, Lapio, Sorbo Serpico and Santo Stefano del Sole.
Comparing the wines, Greco tends to be a bit lighter on the palate with notes of almond, while Fiano tends to offer notes of honey in the aromatics or in the finish. Both wines, especially selezioni or those made from a single vineyard (cru) can age well, sometimes as long as 10-15 years. Even in average vintages, both wines from the top producers age for 3-5 years; generally Fiano di Avellino ages longer than Greco di Tufo, though this is not always the case.
There are subtle differences among the wines and where the grapes are grown. For Greco, the town of Montefusco at 707 meters above sea level (about 2300 feet) is the high point of the zone. Grapes ripen later here thanks to the cooler temperatures and the wines are very high in acidity. In an area such as Tufo at a lower elevation, the wines have a more distinct mineral quality. The Cutizzi Greco of Feudi di San Gregorio is a prime example of this style, while the Nova Serra Greco from Mastroberardino is a flavorful and elegant bottling of the Montefusco style.
For Fiano, there are also differences due to origin. Near Sorbo Serpico or Santo Stefano del Sole, the wines are quite aromatic with good structure, while in the towns of Montefalcione and Lapio, the wines offer more mineral notes. The former style is represented by the Pietracalda bottling of Feudi di San Gregorio and the Radici bottling of Mastroberardino, while the latter style is evidenced in wines from Colli di Lapio, Joaquin, San Paolo (Montefredane), Vadiaperti (Aiperti) and Villa Diamante (Vigna della Congregazione).
What’s helpful about touring these vineyards and then tasting these wines is the sense of terroir. Few producers work with much oak for these wines, so the variety is the focal point, meaning the local terroir has a chance to emerge. We don’t often think about terroir for too many white wines, but I can promise you that sampling the best examples of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino will be an educational and rewarding experience – as well as a most pleasant one!
In a few weeks, I’ll be at VinItaly, the huge wine fair held in Verona over a period of five days. Besides being able to taste wines from all over Italy, a major benefit of this event is to sample brand new releases, from be it big reds from Toscana or Piemonte or beautifully crafted whites from Alto Adige, Liguria and Friuli.
As readers of my blogs and articles know, I’m a passionate fan of the white wines of Campania. I’m currently working on a print article on these offerings, which has given me the oppportunity to catch up on some wines I first tried almost one year ago.
The 2008 whites from Campania are in a word, lovely. There have been several impressive vintages for the whites of this region lately, going back to 2004, which produced wines that were quite rich. The wines from 2005 were a bit more subtle, while the 2006s were in-between the 2004s and 2005s in terms of weight. 2007 was a superb vintage with excellent concentration and very good acidity levels.
Following that wonderful year, the Campania whites of 2008 were not as rich, but offered beautifully defined acidity and outstanding aromatics and in my opinion, are more typical than the bottlings from 2007. When I first tasted these wines, I was delighted with their quality, but now after another 9-12 months in the bottle, they are showing brilliantly. So while trying wines upon release (or even a month or two before the official release) can be eye opening, trying them again after some time passes is a great example of how a little evolution can help define what a wine is all about. (To argue in another way, the snap judgments on wine that dominate coverage these days from the smallest blogs to the most influential international wine publications may be necessary, but we all need to take them with a grain of salt. Time is the ultimate judge of a wine.)
A few of my favorite Campanian whites from 2008 include:
- Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi”
- Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo “Nova Serra”
- Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino
- Pietracupa Fiano di Avellino
- Terredora Fiano di Avellino “Terre di Dora”
- Mastroberardino Falanghina “Morabianca”
- Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina “Serrocielo”
- La Sibilla Falanghina (Campi Flegrei)
- Giuseppe Apicella (Tramonti Bianco)
- Joaquin “110 Oyster” (Greco/ Falanghina)
- Luigi Maffini Fiano “Kratos” (IGT Paestum)
Each of these wines offers beautiful varietal character, lively acidity and admirable structure; each bottling will drink well for at least another three years, with a few showing their best qualities in as many as five to seven years from today. I would award each of these wines (and there are several more I haven’t listed) as excellent or outstanding. A few of the wines are priced in the low $40 range, but many of them are $25 and under, offering notable value.
So while I’m curious about the 2009 whites, which I’ll report upon soon, I’ll be enjoying the 2008 whites from Campania for some time to come.
Another entry from my list of the Top 100 Wine Producers of Italy:
In Camapania, where history and tradition play such an important role, new ways of doing things are certain to attract attention. When the Capaldos and Ercolinos founded Feudi di San Gregorio in 1986, their efforts did indeed garner a lot of notices – almost all good, signaling a new dawn for the wines of this region.
The winery is located in the hamlet of Sorbo Serpico in the province of Avellino, some 30 miles east of Napoli and the sea. This has always been the most important zone for Campanian wines, as the region’s three most famous offerings originate from this territory. Two are whites – Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino – and the third is a long-lived, robust red known as Taurasi.
For decades, the leading producers of Campania made low-key, subtle bottlings of these wines. But under the leadership of winemaker Mario Ercolino, the style here was shifted toward riper, more full-bodied wines. Greco and Fiano grapes were harvested 7-10 days later than usual, giving the wines deeper color and more pronounced tropical fruit flavors. Rather than the crisp, delicate manner of the usual offerings, the Feudi Greco and Fiano were very rich and forward.
As for Taurasi, Ercolino opted for aging the Aglianico grapes in French barriques (with a heathy percentage of it new wood), giving the wines more spice and tannins. A 100% Aglianico named Serpico was also introduced; this powerful, deeply concentrated red is a wonderful statement about the complexities and structure of this great Campanian variety. A 100% Merlot called Patrimo was soon added to the lineup; this made in a similar style to the Serpico.
Mario Ercolino and his brother Luciano left a few years ago to establish their own winery in Campania so today, Feudi di San Gregorio is led by the capable talents of Antonio Capaldo. He has maintaned the style of the early Feudi wines, making certain never to sacrifice balance for power. For me the finest wines in the current Feudi lineup are the whites, especially the cru bottlings of Cutizzi for Greco di Tufo, Pietracalda for Fiano di Avellino and the Serrocielo bottling of Falanghina. These whites are complex, deeply concentrated with rich aromas, lively acidity and excellent structure; these usually drink well for 5-7 years after the vintage. These are not only among Campania’s finest whites, but are also among the very best of Italy.
Current reds range from the delightful, value-priced 100% Aglianico named Rubrato, to the sumptuous Taurasi “Piano di Montevergine”, an impressive, ageworthy bottling that rates with the finest examples of this renowned wine. Sparkling wines have become the latest addition to the lineup; there are three bottlings, each made from a single variety: Aglianico, Greco and Falanghina. The wines are named DUBL in honor of the two wineries that work on this project, Feudi and their French partner, the great Champagne house of Selosse. Produced in the classic style, these are first-rate sparkling wines with lovely complexity and lighntess.
Feudi di San Gregorio showed the world the potential of Campanian wines when they made their initial bottlings in the 1980s and today, one quarter of a century later, they have followed up on that promise and have become one of the superstar wineries of Campania and indeed, all of Italy!
Today, I am beginning my posts on the Top 100 wine estates of Italy. I like to mix things up a bit, so instead of starting with a producer from Piemonte or Toscana, let’s commence with a great producer from Campania – Mastroberardino.
Mastroberardino is arguably the most classical wine estate in Campania; the family certainly represents everything that is good about the tradition of this land. Long-time growers in the province of Avellino, some thirty miles east of Napoli and the sea, the family established its winery in the town of Atripalda in 1878. Back in the 1940s, Antonio Mastroberardino and his father worked tirelessly to save indigenous varieties such as Greco, Fiano and Aglianico from extinction, as post World War ll vineyards in this area (and much of Italy) were in poor condition. It is not a stretch to say that thanks to the efforts of the Mastroberardino family at that time, we can enjoy wines made from these varieties today.
Piero Mastroberadino, son of Antonio, currently manages the company and has brought about changes that have updated the winery, bringing it into the 21st century, as per modern equipment in the cellars. He has also put a great deal of time and money into research of new clones of Greco, Fiano, Coda di Volpe and Aglianico and has assembled a first-rate team of employees on the viticultural as well as production side of the business.
All of these changes however have been undertaken to preserve the mission of his father in producing the finest examples of Campanian wines from indigenous varieties while maintaning tradition. “When you are in the position as the leader of a family business, you have to take the values and regive the values, possibly to a higher level. This is not my decision, this is about cultural and social values,” Piero Mastroberardino comments.
The best wines of Mastroberardino include:
- Greco di Tufo “Nova Serra”
- Fiano di Avellino “Radici”
- Fiano di Avellino “More Maiorum”
- Falanghina “Morabianca”
- Taurasi “Radici”
- Taurasi “Naturalis Historia”
- Villa dei Misteri
Of all the wines produced by Mastroberardino, the Taurasi “Radici” is their most acclaimed bottling. Produced today entirely from Aglianico, this is a long-lived, deeply concentrated red that offers expressive notes of black cherry and bitter chocolate. Bottlings from the 1960s are still drinking beautifully (especially the 1968) and examples from the finest recent vintages, such as 1999, 2001 and 2004 should drink well for another 15-20 years.
The term radici is used for this most famous bottling of Taurasi (as well as for a selection of Fiano di Avellino). This is quite fitting, given the family’s respect of tradition, as the word radici in Italian means “roots.” As Piero Mastroberardino says, “the people here work in the continuity, the roots and the history of this terroir.” Thanks to Piero and his family for staying the course!
Text and photos ©Tom Hyland. Use of this text or images is forbidden unless permission is granted by the author.