I did not think it was possible to fit in so much into two and a half days in Irpinia in Campania but we did. This is third blog on my trip. In addition the the wines, it was an opportunity to sample the foods of this region, which although close to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, is quite different due to the climate and high altitude.
Our host for the trip was Federico Basso from the Villa Raiana winery.
The first night over dinner at Villa Raiana, Federico and I began to talk about pasta. I mentioned pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino which I had not had in a long time. My wife, Michele makes it at home, but it is rare to see it on menus. Federico said it is a simple dish but there must be a perfect balance between the ingredients to make it work and this is the difficulty. He mentioned that it is a specialty of the restaurant we are going for lunch the next day.
When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a bowl of roasted chestnuts on the table. I tried one and the whole shell came right off. It was delicious, probably the best I had ever eaten. I had to stop myself from eating too many.
Chick pea soup
Greco de Tufo 2017 “Ponte dei Santi “ Villa Raiano. 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 the same as above.
Irpinia Campi Taurasi 2015 made from 100% Taurasi “Costa Baiano” Villa Raiano 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. The 2015 was drinking very well and I believe it will mature slower than the 2016 we had at the winery.
Dessert consisted of cookies and sweets typical of the holiday season.
That night we went to Restaurant Zi Pasqualina in Atripalda (Avellino)
Mozzarella di bufala Campania, ricottina di buffalo.
I had the ravioli di ricotta in salsa di noci e ricotta salata di Montella
We also shared patate e peperoni ripassati in padella
The restaurant has an extensive list of wines from Campania including older wines. They are in the same town as the Mastroberardino Winery and have Taurasi wines from Mastroberardino going back to the legendary 1968.
Michelle Kwan wanted to drink an older white wine, so we ordered a 2003 Greco di Tufo made from 100% Greco di Tufo Pietracupa. This winery has 3 hectares of vineyards. The soil contains a thin layer of clay and sand over a core of tufa, a rock formed from volcanic ash. The wine has hints of lemon, pear, honey, white peaches and a touch of almonds.
In addition to being introduced to some memorable wines, this trip it a great lesson in the culinary riches of Irpinia.