The 2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo is outstanding and one of their finest releases to date.
Loving Italian white wines the way I do, I always look forward to springtime, when I can taste the new vintage wines that are just being released. I am extra excited when these whites I taste are from Campania, as they are not only among my favorite white wines from Italy (or just about anywhere, for that matter), but they’re also among the very best.
I visited Campania a few weeks ago and was able to taste a few dozen of the 2015 whites; among these were the three most famous: Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina (I also tasted numerous new releases of the region’s top red wines, including Taurasi, Palagrello Rosso and Piedirosso – more on these wines in a future post).
To get right to the point, the newly released 2015 whites from Campania are especially impressive. 2015 is the best vintage for Campanian whites since the outstanding 2010 vintage. What makes these wines so special this particular year? Briefly, they have everything – very good acidity, lovely aromatics, excellent persistence, and of course, beautiful varietal purity. To contrast these with 2014 for example, the ’14s actually have higher acidity, as this was a colder year than 2015, but the ’14s lack persistence. The ’14s are very nice wines, but they do not offer the complexity and length in the finish that the 2015s do. There hasn’t been a bad vintage for Campanian whites in a long time, but the last four years have resulted in notable wines that were very well made, but lacked proper acidity or persistence or complexity. Not so with the 2015s – the 2015 Campanian whites have it all!
A few notes on the best I tasted during my time in Campania. For Fiano di Avellino from 2015, the Donnachiara is a standout. I’ve enjoyed this particular white from this wonderful estate for the past five years (their 2010 was excellent), so this comes as no surprise, as it offers appealing perfumes of magnolia, melon and lemon oil – such wonderful precision in the aromas of this wine! Medium-full with excellent persistence and very good acidity, this is a textbook Fiano di Avellino! Enjoy over the next 5-7 years; this is not uncommon for a well made Fiano di Avellino from a great vintage, as Campanian whites age beautifully!
The Traerte Fiano di Avellino “Aiperti” (labeled as Vadiaperti, the former name of this estate) from 2015 is also exceptional, with expressive aromas of melon, apples and magnolia; the mid-palate is quite rich and lush and there is excellent complexity and persistence. This will drink well for even a bit longer than the Donnachiara; look for this wine to be in great condition for the next 7-10 years. Traerte is one of the best-kept secrets for Campanian whites, perhaps because winemaker/proprietor Raffaele Troisi goes about his business in a subdued manner. Everything from this producer is first-rate; in my mind, Traerte is a signature winery for Campanian white wines.
Giuseppe Pagano, San Salvatore 1988, with a bottle of his Pian di Stio, a memorable Fiano from Paestum (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
There are other zones for Fiano than Avellino. In the Salerno province, south of the Amalfi Coast and the Penisola Sorrentina, the San Salvatore 1988 estate is situated only a few kilometers south of Paestum, site of famous Greek ruins from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. (This area is also part of the National Park of Cilento). Proprietor Giuseppe Pagano has established a remarkable setting, with 58 acres of vineyards on rolling hillsides; just in front of the vineyards, Pagano houses 450 bufala, whose milk is used to make the famous Mozzarella di Bufala and Ricotta di Bufala. One of his finest wines – and arguably his most famous, is Pian di Stio, a 100% Fiano (IGP Paestum). Light yellow, with expressive aromas of quince, red apples and jasmine, this has lovely perfumes! Medium-full with excellent concentration, this has a rich mid-palate, excellent persistence, a lengthy finish and very good acidity that is finely tuned. I had tasted the 2014 version of this wine a few days earlier and was impressed – here was an eye-opening wine, clearly one of the finest whites in all of Italy! The 2015 is even better; it comes across as a bit lighter than the 2014, but it offers even greater complexity as well as length on the palate. Pian di Stio is a great wine!
By the way, after touring the winery and tasting a few wines, Giuseppe took me to lunch at Ristorante Tre Ulivi at the Hotel Savoy in Paestum, where we tasted the Mozzarella di Bufala and Ricotta di Bufala, made from the milk of his bufala. I can’t even begin to find the words to tell you how amazing these cheeses tasted. I had sampled other examples earlier in the week, which were excellent, but these had just a little more richness as well as lightness to them that were truly striking. This was one of the most memorable – and delicious – lunches I had ever enjoyed in Italy!
Cutizzi Vineyard of Feudi di San Gregorio in Santa Paolina, one of the finest in the Greco di Tufo zone (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Briefly for Greco di Tufo from 2015, the Torricino is a solid wine, with Bosc pear, lemon peel and magnolia aromas; there is good acidity and persistence with excellent typicity. Highly recommended! Also scoring high for me were the 2015 Donnachiara and the 2015 D’Aione.
The star 2015 Greco di Tufo at these tastings was the Feudi di San Gregorio “Cutizzi.” I have been a huge fan of this wine for many years, as this single vineyard offering (it is a strikingly beautiful site) has consistently been one of the finest examples of cru Greco di Tufo. The 2015 has beautiful aromas of lime, melon and golden apples has excellent persistence, finely tuned acidity, superb complexity and a light minerality. A well made Greco di Tufo does not knock you out with its intensity, but rather, charms you with its sleek, lightly spicy qualities and marvelous texture. Best yet, Greco di Tufo ages extremely well; I have had twenty year-old versions – exclusively steel aged, mind you – that drink beautifully. I’ve tasted seven and ten year-old examples of Cutizzi that are in great shape. I fully expect the 2015 Cutizzi to drink well for another 7-10 years.
Briefly, a few other highly recommended 2015 Campanian whites:
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Falanghina “Lila”
San Paolo Falanghina
La Guardiense Falanghina “Janare”
Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina “Serrocielo”
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Coda di Volpe “Bianco di Bellona”
Traerte Coda di Volpe (cru)