Exploring Irpinia with Villa Raiano Winery

Villa Raiano, a winery in Campania, invited me to visit,  taste their wines, enjoy some local restaurants and see the sites.  Though it was only a two and a half day trip, I accepted eagerly.

We arrived in Avellino after a three-hour ride from Rome in the rain. Michelle Kwan, a fellow wine writer and member of the Wine Media Guild was the only other person on the trip.

That night we had dinner in the Villa Raiano winery and restaurant. Federico Basso, welcomed us at the winery.

Federico is the Direttore Commerciale of this family run winery. He is a young man passionate about his wines and the Irpinia area in general and he is very knowledgeable, informative and interesting.

Villa Raiano was established in 1996 by Sabino Basso, with his brother Simone and his brother-in-law Paolo Sibillo. The winery is in Serino, a short drive from Avellino and about one hour from Naples.

He said the symbol of the winery is the wolf because for many years wolves roamed this area.

The new winery was built in 2009 and it is a very impressive structure both inside and outside. Federico said it is a building perfectly integrated into the neighboring environment surrounded by vineyards and oak woods. From the roof of the winery we could see the valley bellow and the Sabato River that descends from Mount Terminio.

Federico said Irpinia is a fertile land of water and wine. It is a cold land, different from the rest of southern Italy. However the intertwine of mountains and hills crossed by rivers and creeks make this piece of the southern Apennines a unique and inimitable place to grow vines.

Federico showed us a large wall map of the wine growing areas of Iripinia. He said viticulture in Irpinia has an ancient history. It developed along two rivers that are both from the Tuoro-Terminio massif of the Southern Apennines, but run in two different directions. Along the banks of the river Sabato which flows on the east side, there are two municipalities with two grape appellations of the province of Avellino: Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. While along the banks of the river Calore, which flows on the west side, there are the red grape appellations all linked to the Aglianico grape, especially Taurasi.  Villa Raiano owns vineyards is each of the appellations of the province of Avellino which are very different from each other.  They have 27 hectares of vines divided between Fiano di Avellino DOCG, Greco di Tufo DOCG and Taurtasi DOCG

The wines of Villa Raiano with Dinner and commentary by Federico:

Ripabassi Spumante Brut Methodo Classico NV made from 50% Fiano and 50% Greco from vineyards located in San Michele di Serino at 250 meters and Altavilla Irpina 550 meters (Avellino). The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines/hectare. The soil is sandy silty, calcareous with volcanic ashes for the Fiano and sandy silty with dark clay incursions for the Greco. Harvest takes place the last week of August. Federico said that the exact proportion of Fiano to Greco depends on the vintage. After a gentle crushing of whole bunches, fermentation takes place with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks, the second fermentation takes place in bottle. The wine is bottled the last of the month of November or December following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 24 months before it is disgorged. This is a Spumante with good bubbles, hints of citrus fruit, pears, apple and a hint of hazelnuts.

With the Spumante we had little fried pizza Montanara, anchovies and butter on toast and a crisp dough puffs filled with boffalo mozzarella  and  prosuitto

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2018 made from 100% Greco di Tufo from 3 different towns of the province of Avellino: Montefusco, Tufo, 500 meters and Altavilla Irpina 550 meters. The soil is calcareous-clay, loose with skeleton fossils and there are 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the first week of October. After the gentle crushing of whole bunches to get the free run juice inoculation with selected yeast takes place. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel on the lees for at least 4 months. The wine is bottled the second week of February following the harvest. The wine has hints of citrus, apricot, peach and floral notes with s hint of almonds.

Hand made pasta with chickpeas, codfish tartare and provola cheese

Fiano dinAvellino “Alimata” 2013 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. Alimata is the name of a district of the town of Monteferdane, Avellino, on the eastern slope of the hill at 350 meters. The vineyard is two hectares and the soil is hard clay based on marly layers. Harvest is the first week of October. Federico said the winemaking is simple but based on a long processing time. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks and the wine ages in stainless steel on the lees for 12 months and 12 months in bottle before release. This is an exceptional Fiano with hints of honey, pears, peaches, apple floral notes and a touch of hazelnuts. I was very impressed with this wine.

Federico said the  apple aromas come from the Annurca apple grown at the foot of the Tubenna Mountain, they are sweet a little bitter and aromatic. This apple variety does not ripen on the tree. It is picked unripened in autumn, laid on straw mats and left to ripen in the sun without getting rotten. Federico said that his Fiano as the aromas of this apple. In a restaurant we were given an apple to smell and he was right.

Hand made Fusilli pasta with typical sausage and tomato sauce

Taurasi DOCG 2012 made from 100% Aglianico from vineyards located in Castelfranco at 500 meters. The training systems are guyot, cordon spur and pergola avellinese (traditional in Avellino). The soil is calcareous clay on a base of yellow marns with a good level of organic elements. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the manual harvest takes the first 10 days of November. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with daily punching down and pumping over. Maceration lasts for 10 to 20 days depending on the vintage. Aging takes place in oak barrels of different size for about 12 months, stainless steel for 12 months and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine was bottled in September of the second year following the vintage. The wine has hints of blackberry palm, licorice, tobacco, smoke and a touch of cured meat. This was the must approachable but it will age.

Beef cheeks  braised  in  red  wine  with mashed potatoesandvegetables

Taurasi DOCG 2013 This is a big tannic youthful wine that will age for a very long time

Taurasi DOCG 2014 This will also age but I give the edge to the 2013.

Millefoglie with almond cream

Grappa Greco di Tufo to finish a very delightful dinner.

Federico said the restaurant is open to the public.  They do catering and and over 200 wedding were celebrated there last year.




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3 responses to “Exploring Irpinia with Villa Raiano Winery

  1. Tom Maresca

    An enviable visit, Charles. Too many winelovers still don’t understand what a remarkable zone Irpinia is and how marvelous its wines can be. Let’s hope this story opens a few eyes.

  2. Pingback: Tasting Wine and Olive Oil at Villa Raiano | Charles Scicolone on Wine

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