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Cantine Crocco

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

As we drove through the immensity of the landscape in the southern part of the Matera Province , in a gorgeous sunny Sunday afternoon with temperature much higher of the average of this time of the year ( 9th of December), we approached the Cantine Crocco.

We had a visit appointment at the winery ; I personally took many stops on the way to the top of the hill where the winery was located, because the landscape was beautiful and it deserved time spent into picture taking.

Montalbano Jonico is located in the part of Basilicata where Piliocene hills gently slope towards the Maetaponto plain to the white beaches of the Ionio Sea. It stands as one of the most scenic and prestigious viewing points in the province of Matera, where you can admire the reflection of the Sea just fifteen miles away, the wide curve of Taranto Gulf. The winery is on the estreme edge of the Ventomare plateau , the largest of Montalbano.

As we arrived to the top of the hill we were welcomed by this beautiful rustic Villa surrounded by hundreds of acres of land with Olive trees and Vineyards as far as the eyes could see. A beautiful dog was observing us as we walked through the gravel yard when the only sound we could hear was our shoes on the pavers. Maurizio and Silvia Crocco gave us a tour of the Winery and a brief story from their beginning to now. Their production is almost 100,000 bottles per year. They also produce bulk wine ( Vino Sfuso) made from some of the same bottled wines. Their first wine was named Brigante ( still in production) made with 100% Merlot. Brigante is an old name for bandit; they originated after the House of Savoy united Italy in 1861 using the General Garibaldi. Of course History is always written by the winners, it is not reconcilable most of the time.

Briganti were the result of the forced annexation of the South of Italy to the Kingdom. The area around of the Winery was populated by many, so to remember those days , Maurizio named the first wine " Brigante". As we tested the wine it reminded me immediately of great Merlot wines which I was lucky to taste in the past, from California or from Bordeaux. The wine was truly an harmonious one, with big body, smooth tannins and the typical Merlot markers such as Prune, red berries and cigar box.

We also tasted a great Chardonnay called Ventomare (the wind from the sea, that you could feel as we walked through the vineyards later). That was also a very good Chardonnay , comparable at a California Chard , with a nice medium body and aromas of pear and apple. (see my future full tasting notes about these wines).

The gracious hospitality of the Croccos, extended further. After tasting the above wines, Maurizio invited us to join him and the family for lunch, upstairs in their beautiful country home. We enjoyed a great Sunday lunch conversations with them, their son and niece. The son is taking a large and critical role in the development of the winery into the future.

We continued our meals with the absolutely delicious wines MaTinone made with Primitivo ( the morning wine, due to the vineyards exposure to the sun ) and finally SULCO made with Aglianico and Primitivo blend. We were fortunate also to be entertained by the talented niece at the piano. After lunch Maurizio took us for a walk through the vineyards where the north part ended into a beautiful terrace overlooking the "Calenchi" of Basilicata.. a Rock formation made of sandstone and Tufo eroded by the winds and the rains. Their formation evoke our Canyons. From that vantage point , we could truly see most of the Basilicata ; including Craco , an ancient and ghost town , today used as movie set. The "Passion of the Christ" of Mel Gibson was actually shot there.

Grape : Merlot

Ageing: 8 months in Barrique.

Alcohol: 14% abv

Color: Bright Ruby Red

Nose: Ripe wild red berries , spicy

Palate: warm, dry, persistence. soft tannins

FoodMatch: game dishes, roast meat, aged cheeses

Grape : Aglianico

Ageing: 12 months in Barrique.

Alcohol: 13.5% abv

Color: Bright Ruby Red with garnet notes

Nose: Vanilla, dark fruits, tobacco

Palate: medium body very structured and complex. sweet and ripe tannins

FoodMatch: braised meat, roast, cheese

Grape : Primitivo

Ageing: 8 months in Barrique.

Alcohol: 14.5% abv

Color: Bright Ruby Red

Nose: Spicy, fruity of black fruits,

Palate: persistence, big body, warm tannins

FoodMatch: game dishes, roast meat, aged cheese

Grape : Merlot

Ageing: in steel.

Alcohol: 12.5% abv

Color: Bright Ruby Red, with young notes

Nose: Ripe wild red berries , very fruity and fresh

Palate: warm, dry, persistence. soft tannins

FoodMatch: game dishes, roast meat, aged cheeses

Grape : Chardonnay

Ageing: Steel tanks.

Alcohol: 13% abv

Color: Straw yellow

Nose: spicy, pineapple, pear

Palate: medium high acidity, fresh, good persistence

FoodMatch: aperitif, white ,eats

After a truly great afternoon, we shared some more conversations about their future plans. Their desire to export the wines to US that currently are not and their plan to expand the Bed and Breakfast area to allow tourists to enjoy the gorgeous landscape and their wine production.

We left as the sun started to set and dark clouds were announcing the possible evening rain ... the memory of this beautiful day helped us to handle it when of course it came as announced.

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