Catalanesca and Caprettone: Grapes from the Heart of Mount Vesuvio

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I first discovered wines made from the Catalanesca and Caprettone grapes at Lo Stuzzichino Restaurant in Sant’Agata sui due Golfi.  The owner of the restaurant, Domenico (Mimmo) De Gregorio, is very knowledgeable about the wines of Campania and after lunch we had a long conversation.IMG_1812

Mimmo asked me if I had ever had wine made from the Caprettone or Catalanesca grapes which are cultivated in the heart of the Mount Vesuvio National Park. When I said that I hadn’t, he gave me a bottle of wine from Società Agricola Cantina Olivella. It was a Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2011 made from the Caprettone grape. The name of the wine is Emblema. I thanked him and when we returned to the apartment we rented on the Amalfi Coast we had the wine with dinner and really liked it.

After trying the Emblema, I ordered other wines from Cantina Olivella whenever I saw them including Katá made from 100% Catalanese, and Lacrima Bianco made from Caprettone and Catalanesca.

Back home, I mentioned the wines and how much I liked them in one of my blog posts.  Soon, I got a message form Livio Panebianco of Panebianco importers/distributors. Livio said that after reading my blog, he was going to add all three of the wines to his portfolio. They are now available in NYC at Del Posto, Aroma and Ribalta restaurants, and at Turtle Dove, a new wine store at 30 Clinton Street.

Livio provided the following information about Cantina Olivella. He said it is located in Sant’Anastasia, a small village near Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvio. The winery’s name comes from an ancient source of water known as Olivella Source near which, in 1974 archeologists discovered a fragment of a Roman wine jar with the engraved name of an ancient winemaker named Sex Cati Festi, which became the symbol of the Olivella bottles.

Cantine Olivella was one of the first wineries to register as producer of Catalanesca a grape variety originally from Catalonia, Spain.  Alfonso I of Aragon introduced it around 1450. The volcanic soil of this area is the perfect environment for the growing of this grape. The winery uses organic methods in the production of its grapes.

These white wines need at least 3 years of age before they are ready to drink!IMG_4168

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts is stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil.IMG_4166

Emblema Vesuvio DOC Bianco 100% Caprettone. It is said that the grape clusters resemble a sheep’s (capra) beard and that is how it got its name. For a time it was believed to be another name for the Coda di Volpe grape but DNA testing proved that they are not related. Vinification is the same as above. There are aromas of citrius fruit and herbs, with very good acidity, minerality a nice finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_4170

Lacrima Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco DOC  80% Caprettone and 20% Catalanesca  Vinification is the same as above. This is a well-balanced wine with flavors and aromas of dried fruit and dried flowers with good acidity and undertones of minerality.

Each one of the wines are a pleasure to drink and they have their own distinctive aroma and flavor.

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6 Comments

Filed under Cantina Olivella, Carpettone, Catalanesca, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lo Stuzzichino- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi

6 responses to “Catalanesca and Caprettone: Grapes from the Heart of Mount Vesuvio

  1. Tom Maresca

    Nice discovery, Charles. These look very interesting. I look forward to trying them.

  2. Nick Antonaccio

    Thanks for introducing me to new wines from this area. I write a wine column and conduct wine tasting events. I am always seeking out new wines to write about and to introduce to my students. One of my tasting themes is “Italian Grapes You’ve Never Heard Of.” These wines fit the bill perfectly. I also have clients whose heritage is in the Campania region and are always interested in new wines from this region.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog, and look forward to your future posts.

  3. Thank you for this info. These wines are most interesting. I hope I can find some here in Los Angeles.

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