Happy New Year from the wine voyager. We turned the book of our lives into a new chapter: 2019. However in the same way we read a good book, lets refresh our memory from the prior chapter:2018. As wine voyager, we traveled throughout the Campania region to discover great wineries and finally, in December, we also traveled to Basilicata, the land of the Vulture.
There is nothing more exciting than seeing the world through the lenses of a winery, the beauty of Mother Nature, the enchanted process of wine making when the grape juice turns into an elegant set of aromas and flavors.
Lets review the ones we visited, their locations, their great wines.
Cantine dell' Averno
Naples is the city of many faces.
You can walk through crowded and narrow streets in the center where the smell of fresh made pizzas or fried zeppoles fill the air, or when an improvise singer plays few classic neapolitan songs from the balcony of his apartment. All around .... little shops selling nativity sets and their best figures (pieces of arts, for the imagination of the believer). You can jog downtown near the sea with the Mount Vesuvius watching over you and the Capri island silently showing off its beauty; or you can walk through the winterized vineyards that surround Lake Averno in the Campi Flegrei area, near Pozzuoli (10 mins from the center of Naples).
I think the view of vineyards in the winter is absolutely beautiful, the vines are bare, but proudly sleeping, resting in preparation of the activity coming in the spring.
Getting ready to grow the best grapes, for the best wines. In February, in a beautiful spring like day, we walked to the terraced vineyards of the Cantine dell Averno, passing through the arch of an ancient Apollo temple overlooking the lake.
Lake Averno was used by the Romans to store their ships during the winter to protect them from the rough seas. A lake well known as the entrance of the kingdom of Hades, according to the Dante's inferno. It is here that Dante meets Virgilio who will accompany him through the journey. The legend also goes that the lake was the home of the Sibilla, a priestess who predcited the future, Aeneas met her in this area, after escaping Troy's destruction. Therefore a place full of history and legends, today an oasis of Mother Nature.
The lake is just the crater of one of many volcanos present in the area. Campi Flegrei is a very volcanic zone, filled with the perfect terroir. The largest production is Piedirosso dei Campi Flegrei DOC and Falanghina. Piedirosso or also known "Pier e Palumm" in Neapolitan dialect for Pigeon feet. Although it is an ubiquitous indigenous grape in the Campania region, especially at low altitudes; i drank a great Riserva from this winery, a full body, perfect bottle of wine.
See my tasting notes about this unbelievable surprising wine. The winery also has Falanghina and Piedirosso wines. See my tasting notes.
It is owned by the Mirabella family.
Feudo di Castel Mozzo
As we drove through the winding roads of the Irpinia region, we approached Santa Paolina that with Tufo is the main Greco land.
The spring was already in full swing in the middle of May anticipating a very hot summer with the sun already very warm and pleasant, even at 1500 feet.
Feudo di Castel Mozzo is a small winery, producing a well balanced Greco di Tufo DOCG , the winner of the best new wine for 2017. The wine is a perfect balance of acidity and flavors. It is refreshing, with a good body, definitely a wine to be discovered in Campania and overseas. As we tasted it, Leo Annicchiarico confessed us his plans to create a bed a breakfast in the farmhouse on the property.
The view of the valley was just too beautiful and enchanted. It showed the potentiality of a wine producing land so ancient and still so unknown to the world.
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe
The Pepe family is an ancient one in Irpinia, which has for generations been dedicated to the production of wines, marketed throughout Italy and internationally.
Entrepreneur Angelo Pepe, following his intuition and driven by a love for his land, worked hard to write the next chapter in the family’s history. The result was Tenuta Cavalier Pepe, a cellar, winery, restaurant and bed and breakfast that has become a centre for wine production and tourism of the highest quality.
Angelo Pepe’s foresight was rewarded in 1998 when then Italian President, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, appointed him a “Knight of the Republic” for the value of his work. The CavalierPepe’s eldest daughter, Milena, is a graduate of viticulture and oenology in France and marketing in Belgium. Today, she leads the family estate with charisma and expertise, ensuring that the wines meet the highest standards.
We drove to this "State of the art" winery in the middle of May.
After the flowering, the plants already set their fruits, pointing at a vintage for the ages.
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe shows how advanced the winemaking of this beautiful region has become.
We were welcomed by Milena and I was immediately conquered by her knowledge and passion for their production.
The winery produces a selection of all the wines from the Irpinia's appellations (DOC, DOCG), whites and reds with many different levels of complexity. Some of their blends are absolutely outstanding, their presentations are beautiful.
In other words a total experience.
Milena was very gracious in her hospitality and invited us for lunch in their gorgeous farmhouse, now an "Agriturismo" with a beautiful view of the small medieval hamlet of Sant'Angelo all'Esca, with the bell tower watching over the Valley. From the outside tables we could enjoy the tasting of their wines , the air was filled with the smell of the flowers and of the Olive trees that surrounded us. This is one of my favorite winery in the region, a production not well known in US yet, but it is in Europe and the rest of Italy.
Do you believe in fairy tales? This is the first thing that came to mind when we drove through the gate of this beautiful estate in the Caserta province (Pontelatone), land of Pallagrello and Casavecchia grapes. There is a Casavecchia di Pontelatone DOC appellation. Here is where silk and wines meet.
Sometimes when you travel around the world you may end up very close to home when you least expect it. For instance, the mythical Silk Way identified by geographer Von Rikhtfongenn, sharing the same old memories and stories of civilizations and customs was also, in some cases, the Wine Way.
To verify how naturally wine and silk meet, it is sufficient to arrive in San Leucio. There, as in the rest of the world, the name Alois is synonymous with quality in the production and creation of silk cloths that are present in the most famous rooms of the world: from the Italian Parliament to the White House, to the Louvre Museum.
Born in 1885 in the time of Ferdinand IV of the Bourbon family, the Alois factory built a constant success under the head of the household, until 1992 when Michele Alois planted 9 autochthonous grape varietals and created a double activity for the already established family dynasty.
In a plateau comprised of nine beautiful hectares, Michele Alois made his dream come true: the vineyard, the cellar and a rural home with Bourbon origins dates from the early eighteen hundreds.
Tall and sturdy, with a face which seems moulded by the earth, Michele is a lover of fresh air and the countryside. It was during his hours of meditation in the family home of Pontelatone, absorbed by old memories and friendly bet, that he planted his first precious vine of the autochthonous Casavecchia grape variety.
We were welcomed by Michele's son , Gianfranco. He walked us around the beautiful estate, offered an extensive tasting of his wines in an ancient cellar, surrounded by family photos and old vintages. We discussed the beauty of the region, his family history and his political involvement with the prior mayor of Naples. The wines were absolutely delightful, especially the pallagrello nero and the casavecchia. The "Gambero Rosso" awarded them with their famous three glasses, the highest recognition in Italy of an excellent wine. Wine spectator also recognized them with a 92 for the 2017 vintage. The heat of the beginning of August was almost unbearable , the sun truly was challenging the grapevines but also promising a quite good vintage.
This is another great example of the beautiful landscapes and the great quality reached by the Campania wines. Cantine Alois have a great presence in the US market.
The August heat was still very strong towards the end of the day when we drove from Cinderella Kingdom ( Alois) to another great reality of the Campania region. The Falerno del Massico DOC and the vineyards near the Volcano di Roccamonfina.
Falernum was the most expensive and sought after wine in the Roman Empire and has been documented as far back as the 1st century BC when it was considered a commodity, almost a currency, and even accepted as payment for slaves.
Given that it was a must on the tables of the rich, it became a status symbol and having several amphoras was a measure of one’s social position. Evidence of this was the funeral epitaph of Caio Domizio Primo, who lived in Ostia in the IV century, which read: “It is I in this tomb, the celebrated Primo. I ate the oysters of Lake Lucrino, I often drank Falerno. Over the years, the thermal baths, the wines and loves all grew old with me".
Severus, fortis, ardens”: such was the description of this ancient ancient literature’s most famous wine, lost to views in the early 199s and re-introduced in the 1970s in Ville Matilde’s hillside vineyards of on the slopes of the extinct Roccamonfina volcano. The bond with the local culture and its winemaking traditions thus constitutes the beginning of the history and the foundation of the production philosophy of this winery.
The history of Villa Matilde began in the 1960s, when Francesco Paolo Avallone, a lawyer with a passion for ancient wines and an abiding interest in the “vinum Falernum” described in the accounts of Pliny and in the poetry of Virgil, Martial, and Horace, decided to bring back to life that legendary wine, which had disappeared in the early 20th century.
With the assistance of a group of friends, including professors in the department of Crop Sciences at the University of Naples, Avallone was able to identify, after years of study, the grape varieties that had produced Falernum in Roman times. With the help of local farmers, he re-planted the handful of vines that had miraculously survived devastation by phylloxera in the late 19th century, right in the Monte Massico area where they had flourished in ancient times, and he then founded Villa Matilde.
Today, the winery is managed by his children, Francesco Paolo, Maria Ida, and Salvatore Avallone, who have single-mindedly dedicated themselves to their father’s dream and winemaking project.
They not only cherish an important patrimony but direct their gaze outwards as well: from the Ager Falernus to the provinces of Benevento and Avellino, with new plantings, new projects, and new wines that express the self-confident identity of Campania Felix (Blessed Campania, in ancient times). In 2000, in fact, Villa Matilde introduced Tenuta Rocca dei Leoni and in 2004 Tenuta d’Altavilla, respectively in the heart of Benevento’s Sannio district and in the Irpinia DOCGs, in the province of Avellino
As we arrive, after a nice ride over the Domiziana road that runs along the coast from Naples to Rome, a beautiful farmhouse welcomed us, we learned later that it is now an " agriturismo" where a night in the tower for newlywed or for a love nest weekend can cost few hundreds of euros. The estate is just magnificent as we walked with our guide.
Villa Matilde offers a large selection of wines made from their estates throughout the Campania region, their quality is well known in the region, however their large production allows also the presence of everyday wine and some value bottling.
The Massico Mountain, in the large Caserta province has multiple realities. After the visit to Villa Matilde we ended the August day at a small family owned winery which produces Falerno del Massico made with the Primitivo grape. This area of the Caserta region is optimal for Primitivo. Although small compared with the prior experiences, Regina Viarum shows the same passion and dedication to produce great wines which are representations of their terroir. Regina Viarum means the Queen of the Roads in Latin. The name given to the Appia road, which connected the southern part of Italy(Brindisi in Apulia) to Rome. The old road bordered the winery estate , that explained its name.
The wines from Regina Viarum are truly gems, from this small reality near the Appia Road. Their Falerno del Massico made from the Primitivo grape is a full body wine with intense aromas of black fruits, tobacco and a well balanced acidity and tannins.
Falerno del Massico can be produced with Primitivo or with Aglianico as dictated by the "disciplinare". We learned that depends from what side of the Massico hills the vineyards are located. Aglianico requires higher altitude and more exposure to the sun, so the south west facing vineyards are of course planted to Aglianico; the East and North facing vineyards are planted to Primitivo ( a well known grape indigenous to Apulia but we a large presence in this area of Campania) .
As we arrived unannounced, we were welcomed by Pasquale one of the founder of the winery. He proudly showed us around, telling the story of his family and their ancient vineyard which is documented in the records of the region.
Their main production is the Falerno wine of which the Reserve (Barone) is just a wonderful one. The winner of prizes at Vinitaly, the main Italian wine exhibition. This wine is made with the old vine of (80 years old) is highly concentrate and truly a nectar.
Driving through Furore and the Amalfi Coast in the middle of August is almost a suicidal note. The traffic is just crazy, the winding roads very busy, the large busses trying to swing through cars on the roads. Traffic jams are common. Nonetheless we did it. Our passion to visit the iconic winery of the Amalfi Coast: Marisa Cuomo was just too appealing and motivating to be stopped by the summer madness.
The grapes that grow here, clinging to the rocks of Furore, are exposed to the magical action of the sun and sea of the Amalfi Coast. The charm of the geometry of the estate’s vineyards is joined by the beautiful wine cellar dug into the rock.
Since 1980, the year in which the winegrowing estate was established, Cantine Marisa Cuomo has belonged to Andrea Ferraioli and Marisa Cuomo, and it occupies an area of 10 hectares.
The selection of noble grapes, the search for the right degree of freshness and humidity, combined with the passage of time, old secrets handed down by the local winemakers and the advanced technology used by today’s wine technicians give life to wines of the finest quality, appreciated the world over.
It was a gorgeous summer early afternoon as we arrived at 12;45 pm, almost in the middle of lunch time. We were welcomed by Marisa's niece ( she was not at the winery at the time) and by Andrea (Marisa's husband). He told us the beautiful story of how the winery was born as his gift to the wife for their wedding.
The tour was enlightening as we walked through the vineyards at almost 90 degrees angles over e beautiful blue water of Amalfi, from Furore. The heat and the humidity of the summer day, made almost difficult to climb over the terraced vineyards.
Furore, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful spot in the world, (at the least the one I have seen). Almost like Heaven: the smell of the lemons, and the grapes already reached veraison and almost fully ripe.
The vines, most of which are trained on pergolas and are often planted in the vertically rock faces, cover an area of ten hectares, 3.5 of which are estate owned. The wines of Cantine Marisa Cuomo age in an old wine cellar dug into the dolomitic-limestone rock: a fascinating, cool and damp place which houses French oak barriques. Vinification takes place using the most modern techniques, combining nature and technology.
In a location like Furore, which is so characteristic yet extreme at the same time, care for the vines and grapes is carried out entirely by hand. In close contact with nature, Cantine Marisa Cuomo experiments techniques to steal land from the rock, building pergolas to support the vines and strictly selecting the best cultivation methods and only noble grape varieties.
Marisa Cuomo wines are the iconic representations of the Amalfi coast.
Their "Gran Cru" is FiorDuva , may be the most representative and iconic wine of the Amalfi Coast DOC in the Furore sub zone. See my future tasting notes of this wine, which I am waiting the perfect occasion to enjoy it.
Between 2005 and 2006, numerous prizes of a considerable level enriched the medals chart of the Winery from Furore: the “Tre Bicchieri” (three glasses) of the Gambero Rosso guide “I Vini d’Italia”, two silver medals for Furore Rosso Riserva and Fiorduva, a gold medal in Los Angeles and the “Best of Class” Award Limited Production, also in the US.
The wine is made by a rare blend of white grapes indigenous to the Furore zone: 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra, 40% Ripoli. This wine is bright yellow with golden hues. The scent is reminiscent of apricots and broom flowers, with a hint of tropical fruit. The taste is smooth, dense and characterised by a considerable aromatic persistence of dried apricots, sultanas and candied fruit. Fiorduva is an extreme wine
The “Vini Estremi” (i.e., Extreme Wines) are heroic wines, children of the hard work, sweat and industriousness of man; they are often produced in unknown, geographically unbroken, at times impossible areas, and cultivated in tiny plots of land snatched away from the mountainside, the rocks and the sea.
From Trentino-Alto Adige to Sardinia, from Valle d'Aosta to the island of Pantelleria, from Valtellina to the Amalfi Coast, from the Cinque Terre to the slopes of Etna, the ancient Enotria boasts a myriad wines that have survived wars, plagues and the scourge of phylloxera.
Grape varieties which, thanks to the tenacity and passion of certain small-scale but great winegrowers, have been plucked out of oblivion and are still able to offer the followers of Bacchus the most extraordinary wines. (Gianpaolo Girardi )
It comes at a steep price given the rarity and the high quality.
Most of Marisa Cuomo whites are a blend of Falanghina and Biancolella, depends on the label
(Furore, Ravello, Costa D'Amalfi) they are grown on different sites. The reds are a blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso (most of the time 50%) also grown on different sites according to the label.
Of course the minerality of the wines is a common characteristic, given such closeness to the sea.
As the sun started its descend in the very hot day of August , we drove to Ravello. The madness of the summer on the Amalfi Coast was still in its big swing and driving through the center of Amalfi itself was a nightmare.
Finally when we turned to Ravello , it started to calm down and the ride up the mountain was smoother. The day was still gorgeous, with happiness on all the tourist faces despite the craziness. We finally reached Ettore Sammarco's winery, another well know producer of the area, with some very known wines awarded three glasses from the Gambero Rosso.
There was not vineyards around the winery as we needed to drive further up the mountain where the land was taken from the rocks. So we decided to enjoy Ettore and the stories about his wines, visiting the winery; leaving the vineyards tour for another day.
Ettore "Gran Cru" is the well known " Selva Delle Monache" Riserva rewarded by the Gambero Rosso with 3 glasses.
The wine is a blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso, typical of the Amalfi Coast reds. It is aged in new barriques, it is deep ruby with garnet highlights. The nose shows notes of red ripe fruits and spices. The palate presents a full body with a long persistence and a structure which allows a long evolution and aging potential. See my future tasting notes when I will be able to enjoy this wine that is currently aging in my collection.
Ettore showed us some of his other great wines, some with as experiments from his son, the winery's enologist. Ettore smiling face was very engaging and also evoked trust, he definitely enjoyed talking especially when we were joined by a restaurant owner from Tuscany who came to purchase his wines, claiming that in Tuscany people loved them.
I found that comment very interesting, as the restaurant was located in one of Italy's best wine producing regions.
The Terra delle Monache has a white also, as a blend of biancolella and falanghina and a rose' made with aglianico and piedirosso. These are also very good wine with an extremely good value.
Another label extremely good from Ettore is :"Terra dei Saraceni" ,white and red made with the different blend partners, Sciascinoso blends with Piedirosso in the reds and Biancatenera and Pepella in the whites. So different wines with different nuances.
Tenuta San Francesco - Tramonti
After a long break through August, enjoyed boating around the bay of Naples and its islands; in early September with no break from the intense heat, we found solace into the fresh temperature of Tramonti.
This is a town near the "Valico di Chiunzi" the passage from Naples to the Amalfi coast through the steep Vaccari Mountains. The spectacular view welcomed us as we approached the Tenuta San Francesco and parked the car in the uphills near the winery. The owner Gaetano Bove was entertaining guests from California and we made him smile when he realized that he could get more comfortables to talk with us, local people from Campania. He described us their ancient vineyard spared by phylloxera and vines of over 100 years, producing great rich wines from the grape Tintore a truly indigenous one from the Tramonti area. There are some affinity between Tintore and Aglianico but the DNA test has proven to be a unique grape.
The beautiful view of the mountains with the blue sky seen from the vantage point of these ancient vines was just magnificent, we couldn't stop admiring it in awe.
You could feel the sea breeze coming from the Amalfi coast, filtering through the vineyards, the olive trees.
Gaetano explained us his iconic wine EISS which in Neapolitan dialect mean"its him", made from the tintore grape grown over the century old vine. Check my tasting notes in the near future. The small tasting we had at the winery anticipated a great experience though.
The "4 spines", a red blend of tintore, piedirosso , aglianico called after the four partners of the winery is another of the winery's gran cru. Per Eva is the winery iconic white made with Falanghina, Ginestra and Pepella; it is a great refreshing white. Others generic Tramonti wines as sub zone of the Amalfi Coast are every day wines, to enjoy with any meal as you decide to treat yourself well on a every day basis.
As we drove higher in the Mountains we met Giuseppe Apicella , he is the historical brand of the Amalfi Coast's viticulture. First to bottle wine Tramonti, (Tramonti is the really guardian of agricultural biodiversity of the region), Apicella has always balanced the production with tradition and softly style. The activities began officially in 1977, but the actual launch comes with the recognition of Doc, in 1993. Now Giuseppe is assisted by his children Fiorina and Prisco, who graduated in Enology in Piedmont and fought to show to the world that his native TINTORE was not just Aglianico as the wine politicians wanted to dismiss the easy way... but rather its own pre phylloxera century old grape .. only found in Tramonti.
His passionate fight, with the DNA proving his reasons, allowed the recognition of this grape in the world registry.
As we set to their table and tasted their wonderful wines made by these old vines .. Ohhh nectars .. away from any industrial making .. just great great wines. We spoke about life .. eating local breads, cheeses and salami ... as the night fell it reminded us of the drive we had to do through the winding roads thousands of feet in the air. Then we drove down those roads on a perfect September night .. we stopped in awe .. to look at Naples and Mount Vesuvius in the dark .. with the sparkling lights ... All from a different unusual angle
The Cantine Apicella iconic wine is the wine "A Scippata", a piedirosso blend made with their best grapes at harvest. These come from a 90 years old vine all spared by philloxra and therefore on their own roots. Colle Santa Maria is their great white wine, made with Falanghina, Biancolella and Ginestra grapes. There are the more every day wines from a typical Tramonti blend.
Tramonti is a perfect example of what Campania wines can produce .. Truly great whites , refreshing , with a medium and long persistence and also absolutely astonishing reds with their own indigenous grapes like TINTORE deep ruby color and smooth tannins which allow these wines to be aged for tens of years without losing their bouquets.
Tramonti; as we enjoyed the view and heard the sheeps greeting us... No cars , no noises.. just the silence of Mother Nature which reminded us of the greatest gift that GOD bestowed upon us.. our beautiful land, our beautiful planet and the fruits it produces with the hard work of who believes ..
Finally, in the middle of September as the summer was ending despite still gorgeous weather and a perfect harvest which was announcing an excellent vintage 2018 , we visited the Sannio region.
Near Benevento. The first stop was Santa Agata dei Goti. This is Aglianico and Falanghina land.. the latter a very different grape from the ubiquitous one in Naples and Campi Flegrei region; despite carrying the same name .. the grapes are truly different from each other. Mustilli was credited to have brought back an almost extinct Falanghina in the Sannio region. Today it is synonymous of a great white wine .. well balanced and structured.I visited Mustilli winery right in the center of Santa Agata dei Goti .. after a very nice walk through this old town and its narrow streets. The town is the birthplace of Bill De Blasio family .. the New York City mayor ....a big pride here ... As the large gate opened in the Mustilli estate .. you could see the multi generation heritage .. like the time was moving much slower ....almost against the relativity theory.. the silence was only broken by the hard breathing of an old black dog. The wines I tasted were absolutely astonishing (see my tasting notes) .. an harmonious melody of all the components in perfect balance. Aglianico , a completely different wine from its Irpinia expression ... smooth on the palate with tannins just a pleasant perception. Falanghina with a full body, well structured with long persistent finishes. The town surrounded by high Mountains ranges (Taburno) makes you quickly realize why once again Phylloxera spared this area ... away from the noisy cities .. and why it is blessed by a great terroir.
The Mustilli family arrived in Sant'Agata dei Goti beginning of the '500: came from Ravello, then citizen of the glorious Republic of Amalfi, and chose the Sunni village as new work the land.
The wine culture is intertwined always with the family history as still document the extraordinary wine cellars dug into the tuff in the family mansion where fine wines are aged. The corporate philosophy 'to safeguard the typical local production and spread the culture of food, to a knowledge of the good things of the earth, looking for a healthy way of life.
In the 70 Leonardo and Marili Mustilli decided to renew the family tradition of growing grapes and planted in the hills of Sant'Agata dei Goti indigenous grapes of Campania such as Falanghina, Greek, Aglianico and Piedirosso, then abandoned or replaced by so-called varieties International.
Until 2001 vinification took place in the ancient cellars of the Palazzo Mustilli, dug into the tuff to 15m depth ', in the historic center of the city' di Sant'Agata. Today these beautiful cellars are engaged largest area of aging in wood, and the wine is made in a winery equipped with the most 'modern technologies. The Paola daughters and Anna Chiara, working full-time in company; Amy manages the business aspect and communications, Anna Chiara the management of the vineyards and the cellar. Wine enthusiasts visiting the wineries in the historic center of the city 'are welcomed in the family mansions, home to the farm and wine bar with live music " The Mustilli Cellars ". The genuine taste of traditional cuisine are revisited personally by Marili, a skilled cook and perfect hostess and very well accompany the DOC wines.
The Gran Cru wines of the cantina Mustilli are the Selection wines. They are a selection of Aglianico, Piedirosso and Falanghina ; winners of numerous prizes and excellent reviews from acclaimed wine tasters. James Suckling has rated most of the Mustilli wines over 92 points with great reviews. The wines shows elegance and body over a strong structure.
The classic selection, also reached excellent level of quality, however they are more approachable and less expensive; making them more like daily drinking wines.
The Sannio version of the Falanghina and Aglianico, offers different wines from their sisters of other Campania appellations, with softer wines , more elegant, full body. More feminine
Finally we reached the Taburno Mountain through winding roads of Olive trees and vineyards. Looking at the rocky summit at 4500 feet ... dominating this beautiful Campania appellation.
This area is the proud producer of one of the four Campania DOCG wines ... the Aglianico del Taburno DOCG.
As the sun was starting its descend in a cloud cover sunset , i finally approached the winery Masseria Frattasi in Montesarchio... a quaint small medieval hamlet.
The narrow roads over old pavers sent chills in my spine. But the trip was worth it.. the winery in existence since 1778 was beautiful... set between Taburno’s Summit , Montesarchio view of the hill with its castle and the medieval tower.
I was welcomed by the son of the owner ( the director of the ROMA .. a well known Neapolitan newspaper) who having inherited this family estate ... decided to continue the family tradition with a substantial expansion .. bringing its production from 40,000 bottles to over 200,000 bottles per year.
The expansion included the lease of a small land parcel in Capri .. which allowed the production of the quite expensive )€180 Capri wine. This is the wine Gran Cru. A very expensive wine due to the low production and outstanding quality.
The grapes are harvested in small boxes of 15 kg, after careful selection and after de-stemming, the pressed grapes ferment in new chestnut vats for 18-26 days at a conditioned ambient temperature of 24 ° - 26 ° centigrade; subsequently the wine is separated from the gross malolactic lees later, it goes in new chestnut barriques for an elevage of 6-8 months.
The Capri Red wine for its elegance and power with refined aromas of plum, sour cherries and chocolate presents a delicate and meaty taste, very long-lived and is completed with fragrant notes of mint, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Walking through the vineyards in a very important time of the year .. Harvest time .. the grapes already fully ripe almost asking to be harvested to become great wine.
Some harvest already happened as i observed a large truck pulling over to bring the grapes to the first phase of production... i learned it was due to the wild boars that decided that after dinner they truly enjoyed sweet grapes ...
Masseria Frattasi was awarded the best Italian red wine title by Luca Maroni in 2017 with their KAPNIOS wine .. an Aglianico produced using the appassimento method before fermentation .. an Amarone of the South made with Aglianico grapes instead of Rondinella and Corvina ( the typical grapes from Veneto). The Kapnios, wine quoted by Plato (The University) and Pliny (Naturalis Historia) is the first Amarone, meaning wine withered and dry, history. The name comes from Greek capnios smoked. The vine from which the Sunni obtained these wines was also caburnica, the modern cabernet, already present in Campania three millennia ago. The drying of the grapes in the sun produces the smoky taste, hence the name greek.
My tasting notes on this wines will follow.
The winery also has a many offering on every day wine ( at a average cost of 12 euros) and some outstanding whites . Here are most their offering.
As i tasted these magnificent wines i was left in awe looking at how Mather Nature have kissed this area i couldn’t stop thinking of the perfect hospitality.
As October 2018 set my trip to US where I attended more tasting from California. The end of the year saw us traveling further south to Basilicata. We visited great wineries for the Aglianico del Vulture in the Venosa region and Primitivo and Sangiovese around Matera. See the blogs related to the Cantina del Notaio with its great wines and cantina Bracco with their great hospitality. We visited the cantina Masseria del Cardillo and Cantine Bonifacio as well. All wines that I will slowly taste and report the tasting notes.
A busy 2018 as we truly enjoyed traveling across the Campania region. Of course 2019 will provide more opportunities, may be visiting Capri and Ischia Islands or other regions in Italy or around the world. Follow us as always in this wonderful journey. Happy 2019.