Campania Italy Wine Notes — 24/06/2008
The wines from this region were amongst the most highly prized wines of ancient Romans. Until recently there was nothing to show for this ancient fame with dreary wines being the norm. Now after much work and investment, they are again making wines of real quality and this now ranks as a most exciting region.
The sheer size of this region affords a huge array of different soils and climates. It has over 460km of coastline, which includes the stunning islands of Ischia and Capri, whilst inland at Avellino the geology is dominated by volcanos and ancient volcanic deposits. Add to this the Cilento (whose beauty affords it national park status) with its rocky soil and it is no surprise that wines differ widely, depending on the location.
Falanghina: At its finest here, giving whites of subtle, heady fragrance and firm body.
Biancolello: Almost exclusive to Ischia these days, its gives gentle aromatic whites.
Fiano: An ancient vine of great historical import.
Greco: Capable of some of the best Italian sweet wine, with its fine body and aromatics.
Coda del Volpe: An ancient Campanian white variety, mostly used in blends. It turns up in Lacryma Christi, Irpinia and others.
Aglianico: The famous red grape of Basilcata is here too.
Piedirosso: Generally light and juicy red wine, sometimes stonger with a gamey overtones.
Information on the Wines
Falerno: Wines from the most famous region of antiquity on the northern border with Lazio. Falerno Whites are usually light but can be good if yields are low. Falerno Reds are undergoing a revival. Serious wines are made from Aglianico with Piedirosso.
Taurasi: Southern Italy’s first DOCG is inland from Naples. Wines are from Aglianico. The best are big and powerful and have been compared to Barolo.
Greco di Tufo: Classic dry white from inland Campania, Greco di Tufo is rarely disappointing and when made by one of the top producers is very good indeed, with snappy, crunchy fruit that you would not expect from so far south.
Fiano D’Avellino: A softer dry white from the inland hills near Taurasi. Fiano D’Avellino is less vibrant than Greco but pleasantly intense.
Campi Flegrei: The volcanic area just north of Naples. The vineyards of Campi Flegrei have always been phylloxera free and so are largely un-grafted.
Ischia: It would be easy on this island to make a jug wine for tourists, that the producers on Ischia are serious, is to their credit. The white wine from local varieties Forastera and Biancolella used to stand as one of the very top in the region, others have come up, but it is still good. There is a red too, from Piedirosso and Guarnaccia varieties but this we have found less exciting.
Vesuvio: Wines from the volcano are labelled Lacryma Christi (tears of Christ), the rosé and red wines can be pleasant, but are not serious.
Cilento: Lying to the south of Salerno, the wines remain largely unknown – even to Italians. It offers perfect conditions for winemaking and DOC status was conferred in 1989 for reds from Aglianico, Piedirosso and Barbera and whites from Fiano, Greco and Trebbiano. Fiano works particularly well here.
Costa d’Amalfi: The latest area to come good. Several producers are mking really lovely whites here. One had uplifted characters not unlike mandarin orange! The Sorrento peninsula region has been famous in the past and there are vast areas in the Costa d’Amalfi of abandoned terraces. It would be nice to see a revival.
Falerno: This is north of Naples and was the Ancient Roman Grand Cru. In classical times this was a white wine region that made dry wines with considerable aging potential. The classical era wine was from a single, fairly low hill which is not far inland. Soils here are volcanic ash (schist?).
There are several producers at work here now and results are very good. It is now a D.O.C. but unfortunately the main producers can’t seem to agree on what sort of wine to make here or what grape varieties to use. The reds then are either from Piedirosso (the local grape which some think is too poor), the great Aglianico (which doesn’t do as well on the coast as inland), Primitivo and even Barbera! The whites are from Falanghina. There are reports that there is Tribbiano and Malvasia here too. I have never come across either, but it would not be surprising.
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