Category Archives: Villa Raiano

A Taste of Irpinia

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.

Restaurant Riserva 24 in located in Serino (Avellino)

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.

Appetizers

Sausage and  greens  with  potatoes,  fried  croutons  and  a fried  sweet  pepper.

Chick pea soup

 

Sauteed mushrooms with polenta

Pizza with lardo and local cheese

Greco de Tufo 2017 “Ponte dei SantiVilla 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.

Pasta aglio, olio and peperoncino

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.

Handmade fusilli pasta with tomato sauce

Grilled lamb and chicken

Dessert consisted of cookies and sweets typical of the holiday season.

That night we went to Restaurant Zi Pasqualina in Atripalda (Avellino)

The waiter suggested a few appetizers including:

Mozzarella di bufala Campania, ricottina di buffalo.

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Crostini with peppers

Local prosciutto

 

I had the ravioli di ricotta in salsa di noci e ricotta salata di Montella

Michelle Kwan had candele pasta al ragu antico con pecorino di Lioni

Second course I had salsiccia di maiale alla brace

Michelle had bistecca di maiale alla brace.

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.

 

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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

The White Wines of Campania Part II

There were so many great white wines from Campania at the recent Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch that I had to write about them in two blogs. This is the second

Campania has some of the oldest and most unusual grape varieties in Italy, such as Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Ginestra, Pepella and Fenile.

In his book Brunello to Zibibbo, Nicholas Belfrage writes, “Fiano is either a native grape of Campania or a member of a family of grapes called Apianes brought to southern Italy from the Peloponesse, once called Apia… it is mentioned specifically by Pliny in his Naturalis Historia… ‘the bees give Fiano its name, because of their desire (for it).’ Pliny’s etymology has since been challenged…it is not bees (apes), but wasps that are attracted to the sweet grapes, and it is claimed that the name really derives from appiano, a type of apple, or Apia, once a place name in the province of Avellino now called Lapia. IMG_6203

Fiano di Avellino Etichetta Nera 2013 I Favati Made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The grapes come from the 5 hectare vineyard Pietramara in Altripalda in the province of Avellino. The age of the vines are 6/7 years, the soil is mostly clay and there are 6,500 vines per hectare. The training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the 3rd to 4th week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks and maceration takes place on the lees.IMG_6205

Fiano di Avellino 2013 Tenuta Sarno 1860 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from the vineyards of Tenuta Sarno 1860. The winery is in Candida, an ancient village in the province of Avellino, The vineyards are at 6,000 meters and the soil is calcareous clay rich in potassium and phosphorus. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Grapes are crushed with a pneumatic press with the cage closed, and the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a complex wine with depth and structure. It has hints of white peaches, pears and hazelnuts. $25 IMG_6206

Fiano di Avellino 2012 Ciro Picariello made from 100% Fiano from a seven hectare vineyard in the villages of Montefredane at 1600 ft. and Summonte at 2,100 ft. The harvest takes place in late October and the grapes are picked by hand. The grapes undergo a slow pressing with only the first press fraction used. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast for 11/12 months and then several months in bottle before release. There is a minimal use of SO2 and the wine is not filtered or fined. The wine has hints of apple, white peach, hazelnut and a touch of flint and minerality due to the volcanic soil. $29IMG_6207

Fiano di Avellino Ventidue 2009 Villa Raiano made from 100% Fiano from vineyards in the municipalities of Candida, Montefredane, Lapio and San Michele di Serino in Irpinia. The vineyard is at 450/600 meters, the soil is calcareous clay and marl, with loamy sand, the training system is espalier-guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks. There is a settling of the must after a soft pressing of whole clusters and inoculation with selected yeasts. The wine is bottled the second week of February following the harvest. This is a wine with a mineral character, good acidity and hints of citrus fruits, white peaches, and a touch of mint and sage. $23

Fiano di Avillano can age and is at its best when it is 5 to 10 years old. However there are also many that can age for 15 to 20 years and longer. IMG_6208

Irpinia Bianco Campania ”Campanaro” 2012. Feudi di San Gregorio made from Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo grapes are from the Valle dei Ruggi vineyard in the commune of Sorbo Serpico and the Campanaro vineyard in the commune of Tufo, Campania. 15+ year-old vines are grown at between 1,300 – 1,600 ft above sea level with southern and southwestern exposures. Grapes are grown at a moderately dense 4,500 vines per hectare and organic farming methods are employed. The Fiano is grown in a moderately deep soil with slight to moderately calcareous surface. Deeper levels are calcareous with silt clay and marl, limey soil. The Greco is grown in deep, finely textured, moderately alkaline and very calcareous soil with a clay surface layer with deeper layers of clay, lime marl and copious limestone. Harvest is the first two weeks of October. There is a soft crushing of the grapes at low pressure followed by cold settling for 24/48 hours in stainless steel and wood. The wine is aged for 6 months on the lees and then spends four months in bottle before release. $14

Ginestra: This grape variety is present in Furore, Tramonti, Corbaia and Positano. It has nothing to do with Falanghina, with which it was mistakenly combined in the 19th century. It has a characteristically strong scent of broom, known in Italian as ginestra, from which it takes its name. This robust grape variety requires extensive pruning and offers discreet yields. It is a complementary grape variety in the Costa d’Amalfi Bianco DOC.

Pepella: With only a few large grapes on each bunch, the rest of them are small, the size of peppercorns (hence the name), but they all ripen at the same time. This is another grape variety exclusive to the area of Amalfi inland from the coast. Pepella is fairly uncommon and the vines are rather old. As a complementary grape variety, it falls under the Tramonti and Ravello subzones of the Costa d’Amalfi Rosso DOC.IMG_6209

Costa D’ Amalfi Bianco “Per Eva” 2008 Tenuta San Francesco made from 65% Falanghina, 30% Ginestra and 5% Pepella. The vineyard was once owned by the clergy so it is called “Vigna dei Preti.” It is located in Tramonti on the hills high above the Amalfi Coast. The vineyard is on steep-sloped terraced hills 300/500 meters above sea level. The harvest takes place the third week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 10 months and two months in bottle before release. The wine is named for the wife of one of the owners. This is a wine with nice fruit, smoke, good minerality and acidity.

Fenile: I was sitting next to Livio Panebianco, the importer for Marisa Cuomo Wines and he told me about the Fenile grape. It is a complementary variety found mainly in the territories of Furore, Positano and Amalfi. It is trained using the pergola system in groups of two or three vines per position. Fenile offers a modest production due to the slight weight of the bunch. This grape ripens between the end of August and the first few days of September and the very thin skin of the berry means that it must be harvested immediately to prevent it from rotting.

Ripolo: The grape variety is now grown in a few areas mostly in the municipalities of Furore and Positano. It is not particularly fertile and production is not always constant. In particular, the weight of the bunch is well below average.

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Costa D’ Amalfi “Fiorduva” Furore Bianco 2012 Cantina Marisa Cuomo. The wine is made from 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 40% Ripolo. The production zone is in Furore and the surrounding municipalities on the Amalfi coast. The coastal terraces are at 200/500 meters and are south facing.  There are 5,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The training system is pergola. The soil is limestone-dolomite rocks. The overripe grapes are harvested by hand the third week of October and the grapes arrive intact in the cantina. After pressing the juice is inoculated with selected yeast. Fermentation takes place for about 3 months in oak barrels at 12°C. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of apricot, raisins, a touch of candied fruit and good acidity. This was one of my favorite wines at the tasting.

 

 

 

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Filed under campania, Ciro Picariello, Fenile grape, Feudi di San Gregorio, Fiano di Avellino, Ginestra grape, I Favati winery, Pepella grape, Ripolo grape, Tenuta San Francesco, TENUTA SARNO 1866, Villa Raiano