Category Archives: Avellino

Tasting Wine and Olive Oil at Villa Raiano

After enjoying some of the wines of Villa Raiano at dinner in their restaurant I was looking forward to tasting more of them the  next  morning at the winery.

Once again Federico Basso and his cousin Brunella Basso were there to welcome us. Federico showed us around the winery and then he conducted a very interesting and informative tasting of the wines.

There was one white from the 2018 vintage, 4 whites from the 2017 vintage, and a red aged in concrete and amphora.

Fiano di Avellino 2018 made from 100% Fiano DOCG-DOP from vineyards located at I Candida (450 meters), Lapio (500 meters), San Michele di Serino (500 meters) and Montefredane (450 meters). The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 vines per hectare. The soil is calcareous- clay, marly clay and sandy silty. Harvest is by hand the first week of October. After a gentle crushing of whole bunches to get free run juice, fermentation takes place with inoculated selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks and aging is in stainless steel tanks. The wine is bottled the second week of February following the harvest.

Federico explained that this was one of the wines in the Classics Line. They are a tribute to the land and the term “Classic” is used because according to the production tradition here in Irpinia, it was common to produce wines with grapes coming from vines located in different municipalities of the different production areas. They look for the most suitable balance, combining grapes from vineyard positions in different areas. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, apple, white flowers and a nice finish and long aftertaste.

Michele Kwan, a member of the Wine Media was on the trip with me and asked if the Classsic line was their “entry level wines”. While Federico was thinking I said these wines were too good to be called “entry level wines” and Federico agreed.

The following white wines Federico called “the vines” made from single vineyards or plots.

Federico showed us the different soils that the white wines come from and spoke about the importance of terroir.

Fiano di Avellino 2017 “Alimata” made from 100% Fiano–the night before with dinner we tasted the 2013 and it was excellent.

Fiano di Avellino 2017 “Ventidue” made from 100% Fiano. Federico said this wine is called Ventidue because 22 Km is the distance between the vineyard in Lapio and the winery. The vineyard is at 540 meters, the soil is calcareous-clay, rich in tallow sandstone. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 vines per hectare. There is a gentle crushing of whole bunches and fermentation with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The wine remains on the lees for 12 months in stainless steel and in bottle for 12 months before release in October of the year following the harvest.

Federico said in 2017 the weather was very hot though not as hot as 2003 but drier, and there was very little rain. Production was down 38%.

Fiano di Avellino 2017 “Bosco Satrano” made from 100% Fiano from vineyards that over look the winery in the municipality of San Michele di Serino in the province of Avellino in Contrada Bosco Satrano. The 4,400 vines were planted in 2009 and cultivated with the principles of organic farming, guyot trained, with calcareous soils at 510 meters. The vineyard faces northwest, facing Monte Partenio. Fermentation and aging same as above.

When we had the Fiano with dinner the night before, Federico said his Fiano has the aroma of an apple the grows on Mount Tubenna. I was able to smell the apple in a restaurant and all of the Fiano I tasted here really does have that  aroma.

Greco di Tufo 2017 “Ponte Dei Santi” 100% Greco. Federico said Greco di Tufo is a small appellation but has numerous shades in terms of terroir. In the upper section of the district of Ponte dei Santi of Altavilla Irpina (Avellino) is their small 1.3 hectare vineyard. The vineyard is at 550 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare, the soil is sandy-silty with dark clay incursions. Harvest is the first week of October. Fermentation and aging same as above.

Both Fiano and Greco can age for 15 years or more. I gave the slight edge to Greco but Federico said it was Fiano that he believed could age longer.

The main difference between Fiano and Greco is the Fiano has an apple aroma and hints of hazelnuts. Greco has more body, takes on a slightly honey quality with age and has hints of hazelnuts.

Costa Biano Irpinia Campi Taurasi DOC 2016 100% Taurasi from a single plot shaped like an amphitheater in the central part of a 9 hectare vineyard located in the municipality of Castelfranci (Avellino) at 500 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the soil is calcareous clay on yellow sandstone with organic elements and the training system is guyot. Harvest is the first 10 days of November. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with daily punching down and pumping over. Maceration on the skins is for 10 days.

The wine matures 50% in cement tanks and 50% in terracotta amphorae. The wine is bottled in October following the harvest. This was the first time I have tasted Taurasi aged in cement and amphorae. It has all the characteristics of Taurasi but seemed to be a much lighter style and more approachable. I liked it.

Olive Oil Tasting tasting with Federico.

  Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva “Sabino Basso” Monocultivar Ravece made mostly from Ravece olives grown almost exclusively in the province of Avellino.  It has a green color and a more or less intense olive aroma with hints of herbs, bitter spice, green tomato leaves and artichokes.

Olio Extra Vergine Di Oliva “Sabino Basso” DOP Penisola Sorrentino” mostly made from Minucciola olives. The oil is a straw yellow color with a delicate fruit flavor, hints of rosemary, mint, and aromatic herbs, with a touch of bitter spice, and a note of lemons typical of the Sorrentino Peninsula.

Federico at the Temple of Neptune

On the last day we went to the ancient Greek Temples at Paestum.

There are three temples on the site: Temple of Hera, Temple of Neptune and the Temple of Athena. The guide at the site said that the temples are also known by different names.  We also visited the National Museum at the site. I really enjoyed the visit to the site and to the museum as it helps you the understand the culture and history of the region.

After visiting the temples we went to Caseificio Vannulo, a farm that has 600 water buffaloes that produce milk for mozzarella, yogurt, ice cream ricotta, etc., which are all for sale.  There is a restaurant, museum and leather shop. I first visited Vannulo 12 years ago and it was not so “modern.”  Even through it was only a two and a half day trip I had a wonderful time thanks to the people at Villa Raiano





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Filed under Avellino, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Olive oli, Taurasi, Uncategorized, Villa Raiano

A Visit to Sertura Vini d’Irpinia Thanks to a FB Friend and a Landslide

Federico Starnone, (aka Fred Starring on FB) saw an article I did on Southern Italian wine for and posted it on FB. I thanked him and wrote that Campania Stories had invited me on a press trip to taste Campania wines and to visit the wineries. Fred suggested that I visit the Sertura Vini d’Irpinia winery because they make excellent wine.

I didn’t think I could squeeze it in, but a landslide on the Amalfi Coast forced the cancellation of one of my scheduled visits, and so I was delighted to visit Sertura.



Fred is the commercial representative for the winery and hopes soon to become a business partner. The owner/ enologist is Giancarlo Barbieri. Fred and Giancarlo picked me up and drove me to the winery. As always in Italy there is never enough time. So when we finally arrived at the winery there was no time to visit the vineyards, just enough time to taste the wine.

Giancarlo said that in the vineyard man must follow nature with care and respect. Their new logo portrays the Clock Tower, the main symbol of Avellino, a city of which they are very proud. At the winery I met Giancarlo’s wife, Annalisa and his son, Alessio and we tasted the wines.

Giancarlo and Annalisa

Giancarlo and Annalisa

We tasted five wines: Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Taurasi, all 100% varietals. They do not blend or use international grapes. Giancarlo spoke very passionately about his vineyards and wines. IMG_0097

Falanghina 2015 IGT 100% Falanghina, the Monte Miletto vineyard is at 500 meters and has a southeast exposure. The harvest is by hans the last week of September. .Fermentation takes in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature.The wine has hints of yellow fruit, apple and pineapple and good acidity


Fiano di Avellino 2015 DOCG 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyards are in Montefalcione, a tiny village perched on a hill a short distance from Avellino. The vineyards are at 380 meters and the soil is clay. The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in early October. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented for 21 to 25 days at a controlled temperature. This is a complex full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and hints of pear and green apple.IMG_0101

Greco di Tufo 2015 DOCG 100% Greco from vineyards in Santa Paolina north of Avellino on the slopes of a hill at 400 meters. The soil is clay rich in minerals, the training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is usually the first week of October. The wine is balanced with nice fruit flavors with hints of yellow fruit, pear flowers, nice minerality and a delicate almond finish.IMG_0102

Aglianico 2013 IGT 100% Aglianico from vineyards of the small town of Torre Le Nocelle in Irpinia east of Avellino. The vineyards are at 500 meters, there is a range of temperature between night and day and this, along with the clay soil make it perfect for growing Aglianico. The training system is guyot and there are 4,00 plants per hectare. Giancarlo said Aglianico ripens late and the harvest takes place the first ten days of November. Maceration and fermentation is at a controlled temperature for 21 to 25 days. It has hints of red fruit with notes of spice. It is a big wine for an Aglianico.IMG_0103

Taurasi 2009 DOCG The same as above only there is a selection of the grapes. The wine is aged for 18 months in various size oak barrels. This is a robust wine that will age for a long time. It has hints red and black berries, with notes of leather and spice. I was very impressed with the wine.

The Sertura wines are not imported into the U.S at this time but they should be as they are excellent wines, Fred was right! They are available in Italy and a number of other foreign countries.

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Filed under Aglianico, Avellino, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Sertura Vini d'Irpinia, Taurasi

Visiting Donna Chiara

We were planning to spend a few weeks on the Amalfi coast. This was going to be part vacation and part work as Michele was doing research for a new book.

Illaria Petitto

I had not planned to visit any wineries on this trip, but as we were about to leave I received an e-mail from Tom Hyland, a friend and fellow wine writer. He also was going to be in Campania, but unfortunately we would miss him by two days. Tom mentioned to Illaria Petitto, whose family owns the Donna Chiara Winery that I was going to be in the area. I had met Illaria and tasted the Donna Chiara wines in New York and I liked them very much.  Illaria invited us to visit the winery, less than hour’s drive from Sorrento where I was staying. She offered to send a car for us, introduce me to the winemaker, and her mother would prepare lunch for us. It was an offer that I could not refuse.

Ilaria showed us around the winery, which is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino.  The modern building is set on a hilltop in an area of rolling hills.

Angelo Valentino

Winemaker Angelo Valentino arrived and I told him that the Donna Chiara whites were some of the best I have tasted from this area. He said that all of them are made in the same way. The juice was free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. Angelo believes that most white wines are consumed too young. He feels that they should be at least 3 years old because in the first year or so all you get are the aromas and taste of the fermentation process.

Ilaria’s mother Chiara Petitto joined us and told us that the winery was dedicated to her grandmother Chiara, a noble woman born in 1883.

We tasted the wines with Angelo and Ilaria as Chiara began to prepare lunch

The white wines

Coda di Volpe DOC- DOP 2011 made from 100% Coda di Volpe. The wine had been bottled just 8 days before. Angelo said that this is a different variety of Coda di Volpe than is used in other areas and has more body. The soil is mostly clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 2,500 plants per hectare. This is a wine with good structure, hints of citrus and herbs. There is good acidity, nice minerality, long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

We tasted two Beneventano Falanghina IGTside by side: The 2011 and the 2009. Both are made from 100% Falanghina. The grapes come from vineyards that they rent in Benevento. The soil is chalky clay, there are 2,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot. The grapes were picked at the height of maturity.

2011 and 2009 Falanghina

Angelo wanted us to taste the wines side-by-side so we could see how the wine has developed with a few years of bottle age.  He said that they were very good vintages. The color of the wine had changed and so did the flavors and aromas. The 2009 was more developed, its aromas and flavors of citrus fruit with hints of apricot and pear were riper and easier to identify. I had to agree with Angelo, I would rather drink the 2009.

Greco di Tufo 2011 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is Tuffaceous and the training system is Guyot. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Angelo said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age before it is ready to drink, he remarked. I mentioned that about ten years ago I was given 2 cases of Greco and Fiano that were more than 20 years old. Most were in very good condition. At a wine class I once gave I opened a 1983 Greco and a 2003 Greco from the same producer and it was difficult to tell which was the older wine!

We tasted 3 vintages of the Fiano di Avelliano DOCG 2009, 2010 and 2011. 100% Fiano di Avelliano. The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4.400 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. One could see the development of the wines from the different vintages. This was a wine with good structure and body. There were floral notes, aromas as flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009.

The current vintage of their white wines on the market is the 2009.

We then tasted barrel samples of two wines, a Greco and Fiano, which they made for the first time.

Ilaria said that her father Umberto had planted the Greco di Tufo grape in Torre le Nocella, which is not in the DOCG zone. He felt that this area would produce a Greco of great quality. It is a single vineyard (cru) and will be called Vigna Nascosta, which means hidden vineyard.

The Fiano is a cru form a single vineyard in Montefalcione and will be called Esoterico.

Angelo explained that both these wines would be different from their other white wines. Both of these will be fermented and aged in new barriques.

The new Fiano and Greco

The Fiano looked and tasted liked it had completed the fermentation process but the Greco looked and tasted like it had a ways to go. They were both barrel samples.

The Donna Chiara wines are released later than other wineries, the current vintage being 2009. When I asked Angelo when these two new wines would be released his answer was, when they are ready.


After the tasting, we enjoyed the wines with the excellent luncheon Chiara had prepared for us, including local cheeses, porcini ravioli with tomato sauce and baked orrecchette with mozzarella, and stracetti – strips of beef sautéed with arugula and lemon.


Filed under Avellino, Coda di Volpe, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine