Campania, Playground of the Ancient Greeks
Italian wine guide “Gambero Rosso” calls owner Gaetano Ciccarella “one of the great little veterans of Irpinian winemaking with almost 20 years experience under his belt.” Ciccarella began in 1989 with cultivating 40 hectares of vineyards in Avellino and later began to produce his own wine. By 1993 after his first vintage, D’Anteche Terre was receiving critical acclaim. Gaetano Ciccarella and his associates at the estate say that they are moved by the passion to make wine as it was made in their region 2,000 years ago when Virgil and Pliny exalted Fiano d’Avellino and Greco di Tufo. The pride and the knowledge of that time now guide their work.
Cantine Gran Furor Divina Costiera di Marisa Cuomo is located in Furore on the famed Amalfi Coast. The rocky vineyards of husband and wife Andrea Ferraioli and Maria Cuomo are arranged on stone-walled terraces along the cliffs at altitudes between 980 to 1,300 feet above sea level and overlook a rugged coastline and magnificent sea that is treasured by tourists. The D.O.C. viticultural area Costa d’Amalfi was established in 1995, recognizing the quality of the wines in the area, especially the reds Aglianico and Piedirosso. Marisa Cuomo is the most accomplished winery in the appellation and has won international accolades especially for its Costa d’Amalfi Fiorduva, which won Gambero Rosso’s highest Tre Bicchierri award each year between 2004 and 2007. Along with Aglianico and Piedirosso, Cuomo and Ferraioli dedicate themselves equally to lesser known indigenous “vines in the rocks,” such as Fenile. Ginestra, Ripoli, Biancatenera, Biancazita, San Nicola, and Pepelia. Consulting winemaker is Luigi Moio.
Located in the town of Cesinali in the heart of Irpinia east of Naples, the I Favati estate is owned by brothers Piersabino and Giancarlo Favati along with Rosanna Petrozzielio, Giancarlo’s wife. Their state-of-the-art winery was built in 1998, and they keep production at about 4,000 cases a year so that they can concentrate on making the highest quality wines. They specialize in the ancient wines in the area, Fiano di Avelino, Greco di Tufo, and Aglianico, both Aglianico d’Irpinia with and I.G.T. classification and the more highly regulated D.O.C.G. Aglianico di Taurasi.. Carmine Valentino is the winemaker.
Celebrations Wine Club – Italian Wines of the Month
D’Antiche Terre – 2006 Aglianico Campania
This charming wine is predominantly Aglianico but with small amounts of Piedirosso and Sciascinuso. The Coriliano vineyard is located 550 meters above sea level, with young vines from six to ten years old. Aged for one year in large oak casks and showing wild berry and spice flavors and aromas, the Coriliano Aglianico has a bright ruby color with flavors just as vivid. Serve at cool room temperature with everything from red meats to pale bean soups and, of course, pasta with sauces of any color. At just 12.5% alcohol, you can go back for seconds and thirds without falling off your chair.
D’Antiche Terre – 2007 Coda di Volpe
It’s clearly not Chardonnay and won’t ever be confused with Sauvignon Blanc. But you’ll love it. Coda di Volpe or “tail of the fox” was so named by Pliny the Elder, author and naturalist during the early Roman empire, because he saw a resemblance between the shape of the grape cluster and a fox tail. The wine has an intense flowery bouquet and fresh fruit flavors with a light almond finish. Serve chilled with appetizers and first courses.
I Favati – 2006 Campi Taurasini “Cretarossa”
The Favati Family leases the Cretarossa Vineyard in Venticano, San Mango within the newer appellation Campi Taurasini or “Little Taurasi” so named because it borders the Taurasi appellation and produces similar Aglianico wines although regulations are less stringent. For example Campi Taurasini wines must be aged for at least nine months whereas Taurasi must be aged for at least three years, although the I Favati Cretarossa was aged for 18 months, three months in stainless steel tanks, 12 in oak barrels, and three in bottle. With the typical deep color of Aglianico, the Cretarossa offers concentrated aromas of pepper, black cherry, anise, and oak. On the palate, the wine denotes concentrated fruit, good acidity, and alert tannins. Serve at cool room temperature with flavorful foods.
Marisa Cuomo – 2007 Furore Rosso
The Fuore Rosso is a blend of 50% Piedirosso and 50% Aglianico. Aged for six months in French oak barrels, this delicious wine is ruby red in color with aromas and flavors of ripe cherry, liquorish, and hints of wild herbs. The texture is smooth and balanced.
D’Antiche Terre – 2003 Taurasi Riserva
Il Vicario or in English “The Vicor” is 100% Aglianico from the Taurasi appellation, the noble wine of Campagna and one of Italy’s most admired. In addition to its deep color and layers of aromas and flavors, Taurasi can age for decades because of its ample tannins and extracts. Before release from the winery, the D’Antiche Terre 2003 Taurasi was aged for four years in a combination of stainless steel tanks, large Slovenian oak casks, small French barrels, and finally 18 months in bottle. Serve at cool room temperature with roasted red meats and game.
Marisa Cuomo – 2003 Furore Rosso Riserva
A delicious blend of 50% Piedirosso and 50% Aglianico, this Rosso Riserva was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and offers an intense nose of black fruits, leather, and game. Full-bodied with jammy fruit on the palate and spice and black currant overtones, the Furore Rosso Riserva presents a texture of compelling elegance and beautiful balance. Serve this aristocratic wine at cool room temperature with rich pastas and risottos, with braised meats and winter stews, and with aged cheeses.
Celebrations Wine Club – Italian Region of the Month
The capital of Campania, Naples was founded by the Greeks, enlarged by the Romans, and subsequently invaded by the Normans, Hohenstaufen, French, and Spanish among others. Established by the Greeks in the 11th century BC, Naples was the earliest of a cluster of far flung settlements throughout southern Italy. Many important figures of the age, including Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Aeschylus lived in these settlements, and today some of the best ruins of the ancient Greek world can be found there. Along with mathematics, architecture, and drama, the ancient art of winemaking also flourished in the hills and valleys of the region as the cult of Dionysus spread. Aglianico and Greco, vines that the Greeks introduced, are still highly prized. The Greek historian Herodotus called this part of Italy Oenotria, the land of wine.
In the 16th century, Sante Lancerio, the bottler of Pope Paul III, raved about the wines of the Kingdom of Naples, and their reputation continued into the 19th century. But subsequently, viticulture went into decline for decades as growers left the land, and the majority of remaining producers ignored DOC regulations and instead chose to plant prolific vines rather than those that would produce premium grapes. In the last twenty years, producers have once again recognized the potential of southern Italy in general and have modernized their viticulture and winemaking techniques. Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo are among Italy’s most distinguished white wines, while Taurasi from Aglianico has been called the “Barolo of the South” because of its aging ability. This is Campania’s only DOCG wine to date. Mastroberardino is a distinguished winery in the region as are Feudi di San Gregorio, Villa Matilde, Mustilli, and Casa d’Ambra.