Category Archives: Villa Matilde

Red Wine and Bistecca in Florence

Last month when I was in Florence, Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino, a wine public relations firm, invited me to a tasting of the White and Red wines of the producers he represents. The tasting was held at da Burde, a traditional Tuscan trattoria, about a 20 minute drive from the center.

IMG_6057 2After the wine tasting, we enjoyed a lunch of many of the classic dishes of the region.  One of the courses was Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Chianina cattle, and the following red wines were a perfect combination with the steak.

IMG_6040Chianti Classico 2019 Castello La Leccia made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at 350 to 500 meters, soil is clay, silt sand, schistous  clay and alberese. There are 4,500/ 5,200 vines per hectare and the vines are 9 to 15 years old. There is a south/southwest exposure and the training system is guyot. Harvest is manual in September/October and there is a selection in the vineyard. Destemmed grapes are gently crushed and transferred to steel thanks which are temperature controlled. There is a pre-fermentation cryomaceration for 24 hours followed by the alcoholic fermentation with short and frequent pumping over. Maceration lasts for 10 to 12 days. After racking, malolactic fermentation and maturation is in concrete tanks. The wine remains for 12 months in French and Austrian oak barrels of 2,000 to 2,500 liters. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, and violets. 

IMG_6041Chianti Classico 2015 DOCG Quercia Al Poggio Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo and Colorino, all indigenous Tuscan grapes which are certified organic. The soil is limestone, clay, schist and calcareous clay galestro. The vines are Cordon trained and spur-pruned guyot. Harvest is manual. Traditional red winemaking in temperature controlled stainless steel and cement. The wine is aged in 500 liter old French oak barrels for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.  The winery is located in Barberino Val d’Elsa which is between Florence and Siena. They use organic farming methods. This is a very traditional, easy drinking Chianti with hints of blackberry, blueberries and violets.

IMG_6038Chianti Classico 2019 DOCG “L’Aura” Querceto di Castellina made from 100% Sangiovese. Harvest is by hand and the winery is certified organic. The wine spends 12 months in 500 liter French oak barrels and three months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, cherries, rasperries, herbal notes and a touch of bayleaf.

IMG_6035Carmignano 2017 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the wines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd and 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red berries with a note of blueberries and a touch of violets. I have a long history with this estate going back 40 years. This is a wine that can age. In 1985 I had the 1925 which at the time was labeled Chianti Montalbano.

IMG_6044Taurasi 2016 DOCG Villa Matilde made from 100% Aglianico. The vineyard is at 350 meters and the training system is simple guyot with about 6 buds per plant. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the soil is tufaceous with a good percentage of clay. Harvest is the third week of October. The grape bunches are destemmed  and pressed and the must is given a cold maceration on the skins. (Selected yeast is used). The must ferments slowly at 70F. The wine macerates on the skins for over 20 days, with daily pumpovers and délestages followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged tonneau and large oak barrels for 18 months and 12 months in bottle before release. This is a fully bodied wine with hints of cherries, blackberries, spice and a hit of tobacco. I have been lucky to have visited the estate a few times.

IMG_6031Neroossidiana Terre Siciliane Rosso 2017 IGT Tenuta di Castelaro Production area the Lipari Islands (Aeolian Islands) made from 90% Corinto Nero  and 10% Nero d’Avola. The soil is sandy, volcanic, deep and rich in micro-elements and the vineyard is at 350 meters. The training system is alberello (free standing little plants).  There are 7,000 plants per hectare. Selected bunches are hand picked. The destemmed grapes are fermented by the natural yeast on the grape skins. There is a long maturation with the skins.  The wine is decanted to barrels where malolactic fermentation takes place. After about one year the wine goes into steel tanks. Only static decanting takes place before bottling. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. This wine will age for at least 10 years. This is a wine with hints of  red fruit, cherry, spice, a touch of musk and an undertone of salty minerality which makes it unique.


Costa Tuscana Riserva IGT La Regola made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Red Mediterranean soil with an abundance of stones. The vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters. Hand harvesting of grapes with a careful selection. There is a medium maceration and alcoholic fermentation is in natural concrete vats at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation the wine spends 18 months in new French barriques made in Burgundy and at least 12 months in bottle before release. This is a fruit forward wine characteristic of Cabernet Franc with a hint of spice and vanilla.

IMG_6042Beconcini “IXE  The name is the Tuscan pronunciation for the letter X. The letter X stands for unknown vines. In the early 1950’s, 213 vines of unknown species were found in the vineyard which were called X vines. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture these vines were declared to be Tempranillo a few years ago. In June of 2009, Tempranillo was enrolled in the Tuscan register. As far as I know Tempranillo was never cultivated before in Italy.

The IGT is Tuscany Tempranillo. This wine is made from 99.9% of Tempranillo and a touch of Sangiovese. The winery is located in the town of San Miniato. The vineyard is 3.5 hectares and the grapes are all from the new vineyards planted in 1997 using a massal selection from buds taken from the century old vines of Tempranillo from the Vigna alle Nicchie. The training is spurred cordon. Soil is sandstone with marine fossil formation, well integrated with abundant clay. 100/150 meters above sea level and there are 7,000 vines per hectare. Harvest the first 10 days of September. The grapes are dried for 4 weeks and they obtain a total yield of 70%. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled glass lined cement vats, maceration is for 3 weeks. Aging lasts for 14 months in 70% French barriques and 30% American oak barriques of second passage. 6 months in bottle before release. First passage in barriques is for the wine from the grapes of the historical vineyard Vigna alle Nicchie that goes into the wine of the same name. This is a medium bodied wine with fresh red fruit aromas and hints of plum, spice and licorice. I served the wine blind to a wine knowledgable friend and  after a few sips he said Tempranillo!!


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Tradition and Innovation at Villa Matilde

Riccardo Gabriele, head of the Italian PR agency PR Comunicare il Vino, represents some of the best wineries in Italy. Stefania Tacconi of his PR agency asked me to participate in a virtual master class with Salvatore Avallone owner of Villa Matilde Avallone winery in Campania.  I first visited this winery about 20 years ago and met Salvatore and his sister Maria-Ida Avallone. They are the children of Francesco Paolo Avallone who founded the estate in the early 1960’s.  I have always enjoyed their wines and I visited again about five years ago with Campania Stories.Matilde

Via Zoom, Salvatore explained that his father had a passion for the ancient grapes of Campania and especially the legendary vinum Falernum the wine described by Pliny the Elder (d. August 79 AD) and other ancient Roman writers. He wanted to find a way to make this ancient wine again. After years of research he was able to locate a handful of vines that survived phylloxera in Monte Massico.  He planted them and this became Villa Matilde.

Salvatore said Villa Matilde now has four properties, two within the Falerno del Massico DOC appellation (province of Caserta), and two in the Benevento and Avellino provinces. They have reached their goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions on all properties.

The Wines


Fiano Di Avellino Tenute d’Altavilla DOCG made from 100% Fiano Di Avellino from vineyards at the Tenute d’Altavilla estate in Campania. The vines were planted 1968-1965. Soil composition is tuffaceous and marly clay. There are 2,500-3,000 vines per hectare. Training system is guyot and the vineyard is at 500-600 meters. Harvest is in the middle of October. Grapes are soft pressed and fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with selected yeast. The maceration technique is cryomaceration. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 4 months before it is bottled. This is a well-balanced wine with hints of citrus fruit, apricots, peaches and almonds.


Falerno Del Massico Bianco Vigna Caracci DOP made from a single vineyard of Falanghina, the Falerno clone (Farreno biotype), first planted in 1968. Vineyard location is San Catrese, Sessa Aurunca, in Campania. Volcanic soil with good levels of potassium and phosphorus. There are 4,500-4,800 plants per hectare guyot trained. The vines are 26-52 years old and at 150 meters. Harvest takes place in late September. Maceration technique is Cryomaceration. Fermentation is for 20 days in stainless steel with selected yeasts. 70% of the wine is aged in stainless steel and 30% in clay amphora for about 12 months. The wine is in bottle for 8 months before release. The wine has hints of pineapple, banana, pear, with a touch of vanilla and a note of almonds. 

IMG_4733Falerno Del Massico Rosso DOP 2016 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from vineyards on the slopes of the Roccamonfina volcano in the province of Caserta, Campania. There is volcanic soil with excellent levels of phosphorus, potassium and microelements. The vineyard is at 140 meters and the training system is guyot. There are 5,000 to 7,000 plants per hectare with various exposures. The wines are 15 to 52 years old. The Aglianico is harvested in late October and the Piedirosso in the middle of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel with selected yeasts for 20 to 25 days. After de-stemming and pressing, the must remains on the skins for 20 to 25 days. The wine is aged for 12 months, one half in Allier oak barriques (one third new) and one half in large Slavonian oak casks. The wine remains in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a fruity and complex wine with hints of cherry, raspberries, plums, spice and a touch of violets.

IMG_4735Taurasi Tenute d’Altavilla DOCG 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. Tenuta d’Altavilla is 25 hectares in the province of Avellino in the DOCG zones of Irpinia. There is tuffaceous soil with a high percentage of clay on steep slopes. The training system is guyot and the elevation is 500 to 600 meters. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in various years from 1968 to 1985. Harvest is in late October. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 20 days with select yeast. Pumpovers and delestage take place. Maceration is for 20 days. The wines are aged in barriques and tonneaux (500L) for 18 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a complex, well balanced wine with hints of blackberries, licorice, leather, a touch of cedar and a note of violets.

Francesco Paolo’s work is still carried on at Villa Matilde.  Today, 20 original clones of Falanghina, Aglianico and Piedrosso are trademarked as Villa Matilde.

Savatore said there are a series of indigenous rootstocks for which they are carrying out a study with WRT (Wine Research Team) of which they are a founding member, and the University of Milan. This type of rootstock is being studied and developed, as they are drought-resistant, a problem made increasingly topical in the light of global warming. In order to anticipate and prevent possible hydration problems of the vine and the grapes, the rootstocks are grafted with Villa Matilde’s varieties and biotypes of Falanghina and Aglianico to then evaluate the best response to their type of soil and climate.

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