Category Archives: Campania Stories 2016

Campania Stories: Tasting Wine with Roberto Di Meo

As I have mentioned before for me the best part of the trip to Campania organized by Campania Stories is the visit to the wineries. It was late afternoon when I arrived at the Di Meo Winery for my visit.

Roberto Di Meo

Roberto Di Meo

Walking into the Di Meo winery was like entering an elegant home. I waited the arrival of Roberto Di Meo, co-owner of the winery with his brother Generoso, in a lovely living room with a fireplace.

Azienda Agricola DI Meo is located near the village of Salza Irpina, in the province of Avellino In Campania. The grapes are hand harvested from their own 30 hectares of vineyards and the winery is certified organic. Roberto is the enologist and Generoso runs the commercial and PR side

Roberto showed me around the winery and took me through a tasting of his wines. At one point when I asked about how he use wood for aging he answered, “The wood is on the wine, not the wine on the wood”

These are some of the wines I tastedIMG_0022

Fiano di Avellino 2015 DOCG 100% Fiano Vineyard is at 500 meters. Traditional wine making with controlled temperature. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 to 6 months before release. It has nice citrus fruit with hints a honey and smoke.IMG_0024

Greco di Tufo 2015 100% Greco. Vineyards are between 400 and 600 meters. This is an ample and flavorful wine with hints of peach and almond. IMG_0023

 

 I was in Puglia last week with Radici del Sud  2016 for a blind wine tasting competition of Southern Italian Wine. Both the Di Meo Fiano and Greco placed  number one in their categories. 

Falanghina Campania IGT 2015 100% Falanghina. Vineyards are at 350 to 400 meters. This is a wine with flavore and aromas of citrus fruit and good acidity. It would be great with spaghetti con vongoleIMG_0013

Fiano di Avellino 2003 “ Erminia Di Meo Selection” 100% Fiano. Roberto said that the late harvest grapes were selected from a particular family parcel. There is a prolonged maceration with the skins at a low temperature followed by soft pressing and controlled temperature fermentation. A year after the harvest the wine remains in stainless steel with the “fecce fin” for 13 more years. The next release is the 2003. This is an exceptional Fiano worth the long wait and I complement Roberto for holding it back until it is almost ready to drink.IMG_0021

Taurasi Riserva DOCG 2007 “Selection Hamilton” 100% A Traditional red wine making. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques and Tonneau and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced elegant wine with hints of berries, black pepper, tobacco and spice.IMG_0020

 Don Generoso Irpinia IGT 2010 made from 75% Aglianico and 25% Piedirosso and other red grapes. This is a wine with a complex bouquet with hints of red and black berries and a touch of spice.

 Roberto also make brandy

Brandy Don Vittorio aged for 25 years. I believe it is made from Fiano. Tom Maresca when he visited Roberto was luck enough to take home a bottle of this brandy and I had it with Tom after dinner on more than one occasion. Robert was surprised when I said I tasted it before. It is not imported into the US unfortunately. This is a very intense and refined brandy with hints of liquorices, honey and tobacco.

There are not many winemakers that make such excellent wines that can age and also produce brandy.

 

1 Comment

Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Di Meo winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Tasting Pallagrello and Casavecchia at the Alois Winery

One of the things I enjoyed most on my recent visit to Benevento for Campania Stories, was the opportunity to visit wineries, speak to the producers, and taste their wines.IMG_0113

One afternoon, Gianfranco Alois picked me up at my hotel to take me to his family winery. As we were driving the conversation turned to pizza as it always does when you are near Naples. He said we were very close to Franco Pepe’s Restaurant, Pepe in Grano, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I asked him if we could stop there but he said there was no time, and besides his sister-in-law Talita was making lunch.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

At the winery Michele Alois, his son Massimo, the winemaker, and his wife Talita, greeted me.

Michele Alois

Michele Alois

The winery was founded by Michele at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

For the tasting we concentrated on two wines: Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I am familiar with both of them but this would be the first time I could taste so many and from different vintages. I knew the winery and liked their Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” which I used for a tasting of Southern Italian Wines during Vino 2016 in NYC, so I was looking forward to the tasting.IMG_0120

The tasting took place in the cellar with all the family members talking about the wine and at times the foods of the area. I tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello and Casavecchia, plus vintages going back to 2010

The name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of its tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints if almonds, citrus fruit melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0115

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Voltumo IGT 100% Pallagrello Nero. The vineyard is 1.46 hectares, the soil is volcanic with minerals, guyot training system and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. The harvest takes place the first weeks of October. Vinification in stainless steel with cold maceration on the lees and malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used French barriques for 12 months and an additional 6 months in barrel before release. This wine has hints of berries, especially, blackberries and cherries and a long finish.

The Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived Phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.IMG_0121

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

The 2010 is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0112

Talita made a delicious frittata for us to eat during the tasting, but unfortunately, I had another winery to visit and it became too late for me to try her Pasta alla Genovese, a classic dish from the Neapolitan kitchen. All I got to do was smell the aroma. It was a wonderful visit and I really enjoyed meeting the family and experiencing their wines.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alois Winery, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Cassavecchia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Uncategorized

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 i-Italy.org 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

Fred

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. sAt 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

 

 

IMG_0098

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.

1 Comment

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

Tasting Wine with Lunch at Donnachiara

Campania Stories is the name of an organized event to introduce and educate about the wines of Campania. Before the trip, they sent me a list of wines that I could visit when I attended their wine event in Benevento.IMG_9985

The first winery I chose was Donnachiara. I had been to the winery before and had tasted the wines with Ilaria Petitto a number of times in NYC. I wanted to visit again to see what was new and how the wines had developed.

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the province of Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for 150 years.

Ilaria and her mother Chiara greeted me. Chiara said that the winery is named after her grandmother Donnachiara.

Umberto

Umberto, Ilaria, Chiara, Francesco de Rienzo

Winemaker Angelo Valentino led us through a tasting of the wines. I told him that the Donnachiara 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. In answer to a question, Angelo said it was his love for Fiano and Taurasi that made him become an enologist.

So I was looking forward to see how the wines have developed. He said 2015 was an excellent vintage. It was warm year, but rain came at the right time.

The winesIMG_9987

Falanghina 2015 IGT 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. This is the perfect wine with spaghetti alle vongole.IMG_9989

Coda di Volpe  DOC 2015 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.IMG_9994

We tasted the Fiano di Avelliano DOCG 2015 100% Fiano (Two days later at the blind tasting held at our hotel in Benevento. I picked this wine as one of the top Fiano’s) 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 is a wine with good structure and body.

Last time I was there I tasted the 2011, 2010 and 2009 vintages of the Fiano di Avellino. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity in the wines. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009. Angelo said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age.

On this my latest visit, I tasted the 2009 and the 2007. Both were showing very well and still showing no signs of age. The 2009 still had that hint of smoke. Angelo said that it was colder in 2009 than in 2007 so the wines did taste slightly different.IMG_0006

I drank both of them with a traditional lunch of Ravioli, Meatballs, and la Pastiera, the traditional Easter cake prepared by Chiara.IMG_0008

Umberto Petitto, Chiara’s husband, joined us for lunch.IMG_9992

Greco di Tufo 2015 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Illaria said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. Cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak is used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age before it is ready to drink. One of my top picks at the blind tasting.

When I visited the winery 3 years ago, I tasted barrel samples of two wines, Greco 2011 and Fiano 2011 both of which they made for the first time.IMG_9997

Fiano 2011 IGT only made in the best vintages with no battonage, like in Alsace with 20% new oak and late harvest grapes picked when there was sleet in November. It is a dry wine.

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) Vigna Nascosta, which means hidden vineyard.IMG_9995

The Fiano is a cru from 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 will be fermented and aged in new barriques.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well both these wines had developed. The Fiano was elegant and complex with hints of citrus fruits, especially lemon, with a touch of smoke.

The Greco was complex and rich with hints of apricot, mango, candied citrus fruits and good minerality.

I then had a discussion with Angelo about which wine ages better, Fiano or Greco. We disagreed. He stated the case for Fiano and I for Greco.IMG_0001

Taurasi di Umberto 2012 named after Umberto Petitto. 100% Agalianco, The soil is clay and the training system is Guyot, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and the harvest is the first week of November. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG The wine is like the one above but is aged in very old barriques. It is a big tannic. intense wine with good structure and body and hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of coffee. It will only get better with time.

We also tasted the 2009 and 2011 Taurasi which were developing very nicely.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Coda di Volpe, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Campania Stories 2016

Even though Campania Stories was taking place only a few weeks after I had returned from Naples, I decided to attend. It seemed like a unique opportunity to taste many wines of the Campania Region, speak with the producers over dinner and visit the wineries. When one gets the opportunity to go to Italy, one goes.IMG_0039

The event is usually held in Naples but this year it was being held in Benevento at the Una Hotel Il Molino. One of the organizers, Diana Cataldo, said it was because the area experienced terrible flooding and there was great damage done to local agriculture. The damage could be seen as I drove around the countryside to visit the wineries.

On the form that the organizers sent me, there was a list of 72 wineries that I could visit. I chose 10 wineries, 2 from each of the wine producing provinces that we were going to visit. This way I would get to see the province and taste the wine that is produced there. Listed below are the provinces with the wine producing regions and the wines I visited:IMG_0189

Provincia di CASERTA: Alto Casertano and Colline Caiatine-Terre del Volturne.

Alois and Villa Matilde

Provincia di BENEVENTO: Sannio.

Fontanavecchia amd Mustilli

Provincia di AVELLINO: Irpinia,

Donnachiara, Feudi di San Gregorio, Di Meo and Sertura

There were four here because one was added when I was there and another on the Amalfi Coast was cancelled because of a rockslide.

Provincia di NAPOLI: Campi Flegrei e Isole Arcipelago Campano, Vesuvio, Penisole Sorrentino.

La Sibilla

Provincia di SALERNO: Costiere Amalfitana, Colli Salernitani e Picentini, Cilento.

Sammarco Ettore

I visited ten wineries in five days and really enjoyed all of my visits.

Over four mornings I tasted 102 white wines and 77 red wines. As I have said often, Campania over all makes the best and most interesting white wines in Southern Italy and this was proven again by the tasting: Lacryma Christi Bianco, Furore Bianco, Coda di Volpe, Pallagrello Bianco, Falerno del Massico, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, and Greco di Tufo among others.

There are also a number of interesting and unique red wines including: Gragnano, Piedirosso, Casavecchia, Pallagrello Nero, Furore Rosso, Falerno del Massico Rosso, Aglianico and Taurasi among others.

There are many Campania Stories for me to tell. Next time Pizza and Wine.

2 Comments

Filed under Campania Stories 2016, Uncategorized