Posts tagged ‘greco di tufo’
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.
When you think of Italian white wines, such offerings as Soave and Pinot Grigio may come immediately to mind, while such specialties as Ribolla Gialla from Friuli, Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige or Vermentino from Sardinia are among the most distinct of all of the country’s whites. Yet few people talk much about the white wines of Campania, which for me are not only some of the best in the country, but also represent an excellent price/quality ratio.
In this post, I will deal with wines made from Greco and Fiano. In the next post, I will discuss other whites wines from Campania, including Falanghina as well as the wines from the Amalfi Coast and other areas of this lovely region.
Greco di Tufo / Fiano di Avellino
The two most heralded white wines of Campania are from the inland province of Avellino, some 30 miles east of Napoli. The wines are Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, both DOCG. Greco is named for the Greeks colonists, who first planted these vines in this area some 2000 years ago. Greco di Tufo – or Greco made from the Tufo area – offers flavors of lemon and pear, generally with a note of almond and minerality in the finish. Most bottlings are fermented and aged in stainless steel, so as not to obscure the wonderful aromatics of the wine. Most examples drink well at 2-5 years after the vintage, depending on the producer and given year.
Fiano di Avellino – made from the Fiano grape in the Avellino province – tends to offer a bit more body than Greco di Tufo. The aromas generally are of pear and orange blossom with a note of honey. These wines are also given stainless steel treatment by most producers; most age well for 3-7 years after the vintage.
The best producers of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino include:
- Feudi di San Gregorio
- Antonio Caggiano
- Villa Raiano
A few producers will release both a regular and special bottling of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. The special bottling may be a selection of the finest grapes or it may be a single vineyard offering. These wines offer more complex aromas, are richer on the palate and tend to age longer periods of time than a regular offering. Examples of these special bottlings include:
- “Nova Serra” Greco di Tufo from Mastroberardino
- “Cutizzi” Greco di Tufo from Feudi di San Gregorio
- “Loggia della Serra” Greco di Tufo from Terredora
- “Radici” Fiano di Avellino from Mastroberardino
- “Pietracalda” Fiano di Avellino from Feudi di San Gregorio
- “Terre di Dora” Fiano di Avellino from Terredora
- “Vigna della Congregazione” Fiano di Avellino from Villa Diamante
A few producers offer a special blend of Greco and Fiano; the most famous include “Campanaro” from Feudi di San Gregorio and “Doceassaje” from Vinosia.
There are other bottlings of Greco and Fiano from outside the province of Avellino. The best are the wines made from Fiano by Luigi Maffini, a producer in the Salrno province, south of Napoli. He produces three versions of Fiano: a stainless steel bottling called “Kratos”, a barrique-aged version named “Pietraincatenata” and a wonderful dessert offering made in a Passito style, where the grapes are dried naturally for several months. There are numerous producers of Fiano Passito; to my tastes, the Luigi Maffini version with its flavors of pineapple, apricot and dried honey backed by great fruit persistence, cleansing acidity and delicate sweetness, is among the finest dessert wines produced today in all of Italy.
I mentioned the price/quality ratio earlier; most versions of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino can be found in the $20-$25 price range on American retail shelves; the special bottlings may be in the $30 price range or a few dollars higher. Compared to some of the finest white blends of Friuli, for example, these represent fine values.