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The Mustilli Winery: A Long Overdue Visit

When I was working as the wine director at a NYC Italian restaurant, Paola Mustilli from the Mustilli winery came in to have me sample their wines. We already carried some and I was more than willing to try the ones she brought.IMG_0810

After we tasted the Falanghina she handed me a book entitled “Falanghina” which included the work done by her father Leonardo Mustilli and her sister Anna Chiara Mustilli in saving the Falanghina grape. The authors are Antonella Monaco, Anna Chiara Mustilli and Luciano Pignataro.

She also invited me to the winery to taste older vintages of Falanghina. The winey is about 30 miles inland from Naples.

“Falanghina,” writes Luciano Pignataro in his opening line, “surely more than Aglianico, is the wine in which all Campania identifies, the wine that can best embody the local genius loci of the Neapolitan pleasure of the table.”

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Paola and Anna Chiara

When I was in Benevento as one of the journalists at the Campania Stories tasting, I was finally able to take Paola up on her offer and went to the winery, over 10 years since our meeting in NYC. Paola, who takes care of the commercial end of the business and Anna Chiara, her sister who manages the vineyards and winemaking, greeted me.IMG_0172

Anna Chiara said that in 1979 her father, Leonardo Mustilli bottled the first single-variety commercial Falanghina in Campania. Then there were only 75 acres; today there are over 7,000 with the majority in Sannio. Sant’Agata dei Goti is a sub-region of the DOC Sannio and they are the only winery in the area. She said they have over 20 hectares all planted with indigenous varieties.

The Mustilli Family came to Sant’Agata dei Goti in the 14th century. Anna Chiara gave us a tour of the old underground cellar that the family has owned since the 17 century. In 2002 they built a new structure right outside the town.

We then tasted the wines;IMG_0174

Falanghina Sannio DOC 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards, at 800 ft. located in Sant’Agata del Goti, with volcanic soil, facing southwest. The age of the vines is 10 to 30 years. Hand-harvest in mid-October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in tanks for 12 months. This is a fresh wine with hints of lemon and apple with good acidity.IMG_0177

Falanghina Sannio 2002 DOC 100% Falanghina The wine was starting to show some signs of age but still was very pleasant with nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors.IMG_0185

Greco di Santacroce 1977  I was very impressed with this wine. It was not showing any signs of age. In fact I drank as much of the wine as I could!IMG_0178

Piedirosso Sannio DOC 100% Piedirosso from the Pozzillo vineyard, which is at 800 ft. The soil is volcanic and clay and the exposure is southwest. The wines are between 10 and 20 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in late October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of plums, violets and a hint of bell peppers.IMG_0175

Greco Sannio Sant’ Agata De’ Goti DOC 100% Greco. The grapes are cultivated in the vineyards of Presta and Pozzillo in the commune of S. Agata dei Goti. The vineyard has a southwest exposure at 250 meters. Training system is guyot and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature at 15C for about two weeks. Aging is in steel with periodic batonnage. The wine has hints of white peach, apricot and anise with good acidity and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.IMG_0187

Aglianico Sannio DOC 100% Aglianico from vineyards at 800ft. with volcanic and clay soil and a southwest   exposure. The vines are 30 years old. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French second passage barriques for 9 months and in bottle for 3 months before release.IMG_0182

Aglianico Sanno DOC ‘Cesco di Nece’ 100% Aliganico from the “Cesco di Nece,” organically planted vineyard in 1994 and is 3 hectares. Harvest is at the end of October. Grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maturation is second passage French oak for 9 months. Lightly fined, unfiltered and a small SO2 addition before bottling. It is aged for 9 months in bottle before release.

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Filed under Aglianico, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mustilli, Piedirosso, Uncategorized

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