Category Archives: Coda di Volpe

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.

 

 

 

 

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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

White Wines of Campania: Part 1

 

When Tom Maresca, member sponsor of the event,  sent me the list of Campania wines for the Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch at Felidia Restaurant, I could not believe the variety of wines that he had managed to put together. There were 14 white wines on the list and 14 reds ranging in price from $17 to $60.

Tom Maresca

Tom Maresca

Michele and I travel in Campania often and this was a chance to taste wines that I could only find there and taste them side-by-side

The speakers for the event were Ferrante Di Somma from Cantina Di Marzo, Katel Pleven from Cantina Astroni, Livio Panebianco, importer of Marisa Cuomo wines and Elena Gargani representing Donnachiara

Since there are so many wines to report on, I will write about the white wines made from Falanghina, Code di Volpe, Greco di Tufo and Pallagrello grapes first.

Falanghina: In his book, Brunello to Zibibbo (1999) Nicholas Belfrage states, “This grape (Falanghina), which some have suggested may be of Greek origin, and which some have tentatively indentified as the grape from which Roman Falernian was made, has been known as Falanghina only since the 19th century. (A falanga… is a type of wooden stake used for supporting a vine; the suffix –ina makes it a small wooden stake.) The grape Falanghina is a late-ripener, which requires well exposed, sunny slopes and not-too-excessive production to shine, but when it does so it shines brightly, making a wine of good extract and flavor, with a firm acidic backbone enabling it to resist the passage of time in the bottle. It is a grape of real interest deserving wider national and international attention.”

The grape is well suited for the porous volcanic soil around Vesuvius. Falanghina wine is currently very popular in Rome. IMG_6198

Falanghina del Sannio Taburno 2013 La Rivolta 100% Falanghina. This is a third generation family run winery. The winery and vineyards are located in the province of Beneveneto on hills that range in altitude between 300/600 meters. The soil is alluvial with sand deposits. Harvest is by hand in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 15 days with natural yeasts. The wine is not fined of filtered. This is a wine with nice fruit and hints of apple and pear. $18IMG_6200

Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei “Cruna Delago” 2012 La Sibilla 100% Falanghina. The Campi Flegrei is a small grape growing area north of Naples right on the Campania coast. The soil here is so sandy that the area never experienced phylloxera. The wines are not grafted but planted directly into the soil, which gives full ripeness to the grapes without high alcohol. The wine is fermented in stainless steel. This is a wine with nice citrus flavors and aromas, a hint of peach, a touch of smoke and a nice almond aftertaste. $17

Coda di Volpe (Fox Tail) may be the Alopecis that Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) wrote about in his Natural History because the curve of the bunches resembles the tail of a fox. It is also the principal grape in Lacryma Christi Bianco del Vesuvio. It does very well in volcanic soil. IMG_6227

Irpinia Coda di Volpe 2013 Donnachiara made from 100% Coda di Volpe. The winery is located in Montefalcone in the province of Avellino. I was sitting with Elena Gargani from the winery and she said that this is a different variety of Coda di Volpe than is used in other areas and it has more body. The soil is mostly clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 2,500 plants per hectare. The juice is free run and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. This is a wine with good structure, hints of citrus and herbs. There is good acidity, nice minerality, a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18IMG_6201

Coda di Volpe Pomeiano Nati 2011 Sorrentino 100% Coda di Volpe from the ancient town of Boscotrecase 400 meters above sea level. The vineyards are in the rich fertile soil of Vesuvio-volcanic and sandy. The training system is Guyot and the vines are not grafted on American rootstock. Harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is in bottle for less then a month before release. The wine has nice fruit with hints of apricot, almond and a touch of smoke. $28

IMG_6217

Mr.Ferrante Di Somma of Cantina Di Marzo

Greco di Tufo: The ancient Greeks brought Greco di Tufo grapes into the area around Naples about 2,500 years ago. The much-prized Greco is a late ripening varietal and the phenolic compounds in the grape contribute to the wine’s characteristically deep color. Greco is best when it is found in the volcanic hills in the Avellino province in central Campania. Only 8 villages can legally claim to make Greco di Tufo. One of these villages is Tufo from which the wine gets it name. Tufo is also the name of the rock on which the village is built. Greco thrives here because there is tufaceous, volcanic soil rich in sulphur and a relatively dry microclimate. The vineyards in this zone are between 400 and 450 meters

Greco di Tufo “Franciscus” 2013 Cantina Di Marzo 100% Greco di Tufo. Mr. Ferrante Di Somma, owner of the winery, was one of the speakers. He said that his was the oldest cantina in Campania and that his ancestor introduced the Greco grape into the zone. The vineyard has a southwest exposure and is at 250 to 500 meters. The age of the vines is 5 to 20 years and the training is guyot. Harvesting is by hand in the middle of October. Lightly pressed must and must run are blended together. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. Fining is on the lees. Clarification is by cold and light filtering.  The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of orange blossom, minerality, good acidity and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste. $18IMG_6225

Pallagrello Bianco: the grape may have originated in the province of Caserta between the communes of Piedimonte, Matese and Alife. In the past it was known as Piedimonte Bianco. It is not a color mutation of the Pallagrello Nero and it is not related to Coda di Volpe as was once believed. The grape almost disappeared after the phylloxera infestation but made a comeback in the 1990’s.

Pallagrello Bianco “Fontanavigna” 2013 Terre del Principe 100% Pallagrello Bianco. The soil is clay with many small stones, there are 5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. The harvest takes place the first three weeks of September and the wine in fermented in stainless. This is a white wine with nice citrus, flavors and aromas hints of apricots, peaches and good acidity.  $21IMG_6182

One of the dishes we had was fusillone pasta (big fusilli) with clams, different kinds of broccoli, and sliced almonds. It was excellent. The pasta producer is De Matteis and it is made from 100% Italian wheat in the Campania region of Italy.

Next time- Fiano di Avelliano, Ginestra, Pepella, Ripolo and Fenile grapes.

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Filed under campania, Coda di Volpe, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello

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.

Stracetti

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.

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