2018-01-02 / Wine Notes


Italy’s Ancient Wine Region
Robert D. Richards, CSW

Several years ago, the good folks at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., asked your humble wine writer to conduct a tasting and educational program on the wines of Campania, a region in the southwest of Italy. So for the new year, I present to you the short and sweet version of that talk — and hopefully some new wines to try this winter.

Campania is perhaps best known for its main city, Naples, but the wines of the region — one of the oldest in Italy — have steadily grown in popularity, turning around what was once a reputation for a thoroughly mediocre product.

Campania can be described as a battle between the old and new guard. The mediocrity was a product of the old guard’s penchant for high-alcohol wines, blind adherence to tradition, lackluster vineyard management and poor storage practices. The newer generation of winemakers wanted more, so they set about learning modern techniques and applying them to the unique grapes of the region. The results have been good, and now wines from Campania are found on wine lists around the globe.

Mediterranean breezes stir the air and help create the area’s microclimates. The grape Aglianico, cultivated in the area thanks to the early Greeks and the Romans, is the mainstay for the region’s red wine. The two notable wines using this grape are Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. The wines have an earthy, mineral quality (thanks, in part, to some volcanic soils) with hints of black cherry and anise.

The white grapes Fiano and Greco produce fresh, fruit-forward wines such as Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. Fiano, which grows abundantly in Campania (and now in some other regions to the north), yields a robust tropical profile. Greco exhibits minerality, combined with citrus and sour apple.
With production and reputation growing, the wines of Campania are widespread, including in our state store, which has a limited selection in store but others available by special order. •SCM

Tre Fiori Greco
Di Tufo 2014

(#560702, $14.59)
This crisp, citrusy wine with floral notes and a hint of almond has good acidity and minerality. Available by special order only.
Mastroberardino Mastro Aglianico 2015
(#31877, $12.99)
This medium-bodied red wine has notes of cherry, black cherry and strawberry.
Rocca del Dragone
IGT 2012

(#44138, $13.99)
This bold red is tannic and acidic and exhibits notes of berries.

Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.

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