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Delhi Wine Club
Distinctive and Distinguished Wines of Campania

Posted: Monday, 02 May 2011 11:24

Distinctive and Distinguished Wines of Campania

While Italy is generally identified in India with the North Italian wines from Tuscany, Piemonte and Veneto as also Sicily in the South due to its size and attractive prices, Campania with a glorious past of excellent wines  makes some unique wines from indigenous grapes from the region that has made it command international respect of late, writes Subhash Arora who tasted several of these wines recently in Vinitaly .

Click For Large ViewTalk to anyone in India with some knowledge of Italy or its wines and chances are they would have not heard about Campania. But bring up Capri, Amalfi Coast, Ischia or Mount Vesuvius, Naples or Sorrento and there might be a twinkle of recognition in their eyes as this region is becoming increasingly popular for tourism due to the mesmerizing charm of these destinations.

There might be a select few who, thanks to the ornamental presence of two of their top producers in India- the old guard Mastroberardino and the newer, more dynamic I Feudi di San Gregorio might even know about the only three DOCG appellation wines from this region- Fiano di Avellino docg and Greco di Tufo docg for whites and the most respected Taurasi docg red made from Aglianico, often called the Barolo of South Italy, due to the tannic structure and ageing potential- the best of these wines age for a decade or more. These three wines alone represent the ancient wine culture of the region.

Uniqueness of wines from Campania arises from the autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties like Falanghina, Fiano, Greco di Tufo and Coda di Volpe as white grapes. Falanghina is the most aromatic, fruitiest and broadest flavoured wine and generally rich and mineral-it is generally consumed within three years. Greco di Tufo is earthy and rich, with lots of personality and flavours. It can also age well for 5-8 years. Fiano di Avellino is the most sophisticated grape with floral aromas and delicate flavours. This is the most age-worthy white wine that can age for 12 to 15 years and needs a few years to develop before drinking.

Aglianico, Piedirosso (and to a small extent- Sciascinoso) are primarily the indigenous grapes used for Campanian wines. These are the most commonly used varietals though the efforts are being made to bring back some other grapes that brought glory to the region centuries ago. Besides, the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius and wooded hills of Avellino also account for some of the uniqueness of flavours.

Campania’s DOC zones also include the fabled islands of Capri and Ischia, as well as the recently revived Penisola Sorrentina and Costa d’Amalfi (the popular touristic destinations for many Indians), by cultivating the terraced seaside vineyards from Sorrento to Amalfi. Some of the other DOC appellations are Aglianico del Taburno, Falerno del Massico, Irpinia, Ischia, Sannio, Taburno and Vesuvio.

The region also has several IGT wines- Campania, Benventano, Colli di Salerno, Pompeiano, Terre del Volturno and Irpinia being more popular ones.

If Sicily is the biggest vineyard of Italy, Campania is perhaps the boutique vineyard with limited grape varieties, area and quantity of the wine produced. According to the Oxford Companion to Wine 2006 edition, only 48,000 hA (118,000 Acres) of vines are planted. Out of this, only 1100 hA are planted in the DOC zones. The 80,000 hL wine thus produced is merely3.5 % of the total production of 2.2 million hL. 

Unioncamere Campania and Assessorato Agricoltura Regione Campania had organised B2B meetings and tasting with some of the producers of the Region of Campania. The following account is in the order of the meetings and not in order of size, production capacity, or desirability of hooking up with the producers-the interest to enter Indian market is the common denominator with many of them being excellent value-for-money wines.

1. Raucci srl
Estd: 1870
Cardito  ( NA)
+39 081 8345565
Contact: Gennaro Raucci

The winery producing 50,000 cases is an interesting winery specialising in white wines for low-end and budget wines, starting from as low as a Euro. Both white and red are available including an IGT Aglianico. Don’t expect miracles but the low alcohol of generally 11.5% impresses. Good for budget wines. Their wines are already being exported to US, Germany, China and Nigeria.  

2. Cantina Tizzano
Since 1920
St. Giorgio A Cremano (NA)
+39 081 19276350
Contact:Giuseppe Tizzano
Responsabile Commerciale

The medium sized winery produces about 40,000 cases a year exporting a small 15% to Asia, Europe and Canada. They produce Greco di Tufo which did not impress me as it was rather short, despite being very fresh and crispy and easy drinkable. But what was most impressive was the Falanghina DOC Sannio. It was a spicy wine that leaves a spicy taste at the end though not very long. But it was much more enjoyable on the palate and surely on the wallet as it is very reasonably priced. Has great potential for India (9/10 rating keeping price and quality in the same frame). Rosato Exclusive Wine with 12.5% alcohol is another interesting dry Rose wine made from Aglianico. Salmon pink colour it has a nice body and fruity, strawberry tones though it leaves a taste of bitter almonds at the end
3. D’Antiche Terre
Contrada Lo Piano S.S. 7 bis
Tel.: +39 0825 675358-675689
Fax: +39 0825 675358
Web site:

This medium sized winery producing over 40,000 cases of wine has quite a few winners in its portfolio besides having the presence of all the top 3 docg wines of the region. Greco di Tufo Docg 2009 with 13% had a lot of personality: spicy, mineral, with fairly intense aromas. The texture is full bodied on the palate with long and persistent after taste. It may appear to be slightly expensive for a white wine but it is an excellent quality well structured wine with 8/10 rating. One reason for higher concentration of fruit on the palate maybe that despite 100 quintals grapes allowed per hA, yield is limited to only 70-80 quintals (3 tons/Acre).

Fiano di Avellino docg is another delicious wine from their stable-long spicy, well structured and balanced wine but also expensive. The Aglianico 2008 doc is not as impressive as the Taurasi docg. In general, a good variety, quality at a reasonable price that translates into high price for retail in India but acceptable for hotels with duty-free license.

4.  Tenute Cavalier Pepe
Sant’Angelico all Esca, Luogosano (AV)
+39 0827 73766
Owner: Cav. Michele Pepe
Contact: Milena Pepe 

This medium size company making 20-25,000 cases annually has 40 hAs vineyard, also buys grapes from outside, for the rest of the requirement. They claim to control the viticulture through their agronomist. With 50% exports to Canada, USA, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Norway and Belgium, they are well suited to handle exports.

Lila Falanghina IGT is reasonably priced easy to drink wine with a fairly long finish.
Refiano (king of Fiano) is an excellent, full bodied Fiano docg. Greco di Tufo docg 2010 had a nice and crisp acidity, full on the palate, long and juicy finish that beckons you to drink more. Rosato 2010 is an interesting salmon pink coloured, delicious wine in which the minerality of the area shows. This doc wine is reasonably priced. But the Aglianico doc with 85% Aglianico and 15% Merlot was an excellent wine with good fruit, structure and balance (rating 9/10)

5.  Az. Agr. Volpara
Located in the North of Napoli, one gets a good view of the islands from the winery. The day- night temperature difference of 20-25° C makes it possible for them to produce wines with finesse. 

Their Rose made from Aglianico was not very impressive but Falerno del Massico doc Falanghina doc was full of concentration, spicy notes and was full on the palate. Although a bit short on the end, it is a delicious wine. The sparkling wine with Moscato 60%, Falanghina 40% is made using the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle; it was not zingy enough and would need wine drinkers in India to acquire taste and would be slow to move, initially.

Interestingly, their cellar is in the rock and is around 150 years old. Wine stays at the fixed temp and humidity is natural too.

6.  Ocone
Since 1910
Ponte (BN)
Contact: Domenico Ocone, CEO (Procuratore Generale)

This 20,000 case small winery makes biological wines with 60% exported to discerning customers in Europe, USA, Canada and Japan. Domenico says he was one of the founders of the Association for biological wines in 1984. Cerere Coda di Volpe e della familia di Fiano 2010 is a golden, brilliant wine with green tinge and has intense and clean perfume with a long end. Apollo Aglianico del Taburno is an excellent wine and perhaps, one of the best value-for-money wines from Campania region. They can be an interesting winery to introduce fine wines to India.

7.  Vini Iovine
Estd: 1890
Via Nazionale, Pimonte (NA)
+39 081 8792123 (under construction)
Contact: Tony Capobianco

The winery has 60,000 cases production but has potential of 180,000 cases. They are basically selling in the domestic market with only 9% being exported at the moment to USA, Hong Kong, Japan, UK and Denmark. Wines are not the best of quality (generally rated 6-7/10) but are amazingly excellent on price-quality ratio and can dare facing the rigid and high tax regime of India. One can even import for Retail sales, wines like Falanghina Sannio doc 2010- a limy, lemony, crisp wine which at 12.5% alcohol is an excellent aperitif wine. Same goes for Falanghina Pompeiano which is even lower priced and more fruity and intense flavoured. Though Piedirosso Pompeiano disappoints despite its low price, Aglianico Sannio doc 13.5% is a delicious wine with Nebbiolo-like floral aromas, at a very good price. Vinya Micciano, with 50% Aglianico and 50% Piedirosso is an interesting wine with a decent price tag (rated 8/10)

8.  Poggio delle Baccanti- Az. Agr. La Mura
Estd: 2003
Sant’Antonio Abate (NA)
Contact: Antonio Abate

Relatively new and small winery producing 12-13,000 cases annually, they produce a few interesting wines like Penisola Sorrentina doc, (appellation since 1994) which has
pleasant aromas of white fruits like melon, and flavours very juicy, citrus and crisp with a long and persistent after-taste. This blend of 40% Falanghina, 40% Biancolella and 20% Forastera, is a connoisseur’s delight.

The Rose made from Sciascinoso is pink salmon colour, was not attractive in looks or taste. Though technically a well made wine, it may not seduce the Indian palate, despite its attractive price. Lacryma Christi Bosco de Medici is another unique blend of Piedirosso- 80%, Sciascinoso 10%, and Aglianico 10%, that makes wine with personality but not likely to be a winner in the Indian market.

9  La Fortezza
Torrecuso (BN)
Owner: Enzo Rillo

This is an interesting example of an industrial construction company diversifying into wine business because of the owner’s roots in the wine village and his passion for wine and vines that he grew up with. It’s a very young company which started in 2006, with commercial activity starting only 3 months ago. The winery plans to produce 25,000 cases of wine going on to almost 160,000 cases in future. They are already exporting to Bulgaria, Holland, Romania and UK.

La Fortezza has already sold a small quantity of 4500 bottles sold after starting their commercial activity in January 2011. They do not buy grapes from outside. 400,000 hLs  of wine gives them 300,000 bottles budget

10.  Az. Agr. Il Poggio di Fusco Carmine
Via Defenze 4, Torrecuso (BN)
+39 0824 874068
Contact: Mr. Carmine Fusco, prop.

Il Poggio is located in Benevento province at the foot of Mount Taburno, on a hill at about 300m height. There is breathtaking view from the winery. It is a big sized company making about 190, 000 cases annually and already exporting to Germany, China and USA.

This area produces no docg wines and only doc-the Spumante Extra Dry doc made from Falanghina grapes is an interesting wine made by Charmat method like Prosecco but this slightly sweet wine will have a niche market only because of its higher prices. Taburno Falanghina doc is a good value for money preposition as is the fuller bodied Rose made from Aglianico and classified as Aglianico Del Taburno Rosato DOC. Mirabilis Beneventano Aglianico IGT is a wooden-vat aged wine that has a good aging potential and shelf life- good quality wine for which you pay a reasonable price.

Although wines from Campania will need time as the taste for their wines has to be developed but because of the unique character and personality of these wines, one can expect wine connoisseurs and those with evolved palates to enjoy these wines-especially since they are still excellent value-for-money preposition. The highly complicated names of wineries might get them international awards, but once you go past that, the unique wines from Campania can be quite distinctive and distinguished.

Subhash Arora


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