CAMPANIAN WHITES and Aglianico of Basilicata--seeking advice for upcoming travel
- erica Sep 10, 2011 03:04 PM
I will be traveling near the coastlines of these regions soon and would like to delve into the wines more deeply than on previous trips, when I usually ordered the house white. I know very little about the wines of these areas, although I have recently enjoyed very much the Feudi San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino.
Wine lists in coastal Campania seems to tilt towards greco, fiano, and falanghina. What are the differences between these three grapes and what are the best pairings for meals that will be heavy on fish, shellfish, and vegetables? Which producers should I look for?
What about the wines of Furore, Tramonti and Ravello? Anything I should keep in mind in the Amalfi/Sorrento region?
I will be in Basilicata briefly and hope to sample aglianicos, which I have also liked in the past. Any producers I should keep an eye out for?
Please keep recommendations for both reds and whites in the moderate price ranges. Passito, or dessert wines are also of interest.
The quality and popularity of Campanian whites has risen dramatically. Greco, fiano,, and falanghina are the principal varietals (though coda di volpe or, on Ischia, biancollila and forastera are also seen); they share similar qualities, but some differences. Fiano is usually considered the most complete of the 3, age-worthy, richer, but still mineral and smoke. Fiano di Avellino is the DOC, but other areas do well with it. Feudi, Mastroberardino, Pietracupa, DiMeo, Vadiaperto, Maffini, and many others do well with what's become a somewhat pricey wine. Greco di Tufo (also Avellino) is, to my taste, more flinty, minerally, tauter. Many Fiano growers also do fine Grecos, but Benito Ferrara's is one that stands out; Urciuolo and Petilia make greta value versions. Falanghina is a more floral, less imposing wine, made in a number of appellations. Try one from Grotta del Sole, Tenuta Ponte, La Rivolta, Cantina del Taburno and other mid-size growers (even coops) for real value. I wouldn't sweat the food matchings here--but think of fiano as something serious to go with a great grilled fish, greco for frutta di mare, and falanghina for anything else. In Tramonti, Giuseppe Apicella; Ravello, Ettore Sammarco; Furore, Cantina Gran Furor. Most of these place wines are sometimes blends of some of the whites above, plus other varietals. Other appellations like Costa d'Amalfi or Vesuvio are also blends --De Angelis in Sorrento makes a lovely Lachyrma Christi (falanghina-coda di volpe). In Basilicata, D'Angelo and Bisceglia plus Cantina di Venosa, and Lucania withgood bets at various, gentler price levels. Luciano Pignataro's Campanian food and wine blog is a great resource here. Buon soggiorno!
I spent a week with Ravello as my base a few years back.
In what cities/towns will you be staying? That may seem like a simple question, but you may find your ability to visit a lot of wineries limited by that. And that's because driving the coast road will take you more time than you think (unless you've done it before and drive as recklessly as the locals).
Feudi is in Sorbo Serpico, a bit east of Avellino. Mastroberardino is in Atripalda, a little less further from Avellino than Sorbo Serpico. You may find most of your day taken up with driving there, visiting, and driving back. If you can do both in one day, I'd recommend that. And if you dare to fit in a third, I highly recommend Benito Ferrara, just north of Avellino in Suozzi (near Tufo). They make my favorite Greco di Tufo. And northeast of Avellino, in the town of Lapio, is Clelia Romano, who makes my favorite Fiano di Avellino.
You will find coastal wineries in Furore, Ravello, and Amalfi. Not many (if any) have internatinal distribution (like the four producers listed above). I remember visiting one winery in Ravello that truly impressed me (I forget the name, but there are only two in town) and I brought several bottles back home with me.
There's a great producer of Falnghina who isn't coming to mind right now, but I'll reply again with that information.
You will also find regional wines labeled Benevento, Salerno, and Paestum. And the prices in the supermarkets are shockingly low. Makes it worth trying as much as one can. :o)
Thanks to you both. I probably was not clear in my first post: I will not be visiting the actual wineries, but driving up the coast, more or less, from Amantea in Calabria, through Maratea and the Cilento, ending with a week on the AC, with overnight stays there in Ravello, Furore, and Praiano. I plan to get rid of the car once I arrive on the actual Coast.
Food is my primary interest, I want to drink the best wine I can afford that will compliment the coastal cuisine. I have the Bastianich vino book, and on Bob's advice, have read Pignataro, so those, with the help here, have given me a good beginning..... I will be sure to take notes!
Brad: Do you have any restaurant tips for Ravello, or for anywhere else in the area? Many, many thanks.
Erica, try stopping at Cantine Maffini in San Marco di Castellabate (and try to drive the 4 km up to the centro storico of Castellabate for an amazing experience) or De Concilis in Prignano Cilento. The small wine and food shop on the main street of lovely Santa Maria di Castellabate (a great stop) has a really interesting selection of Cilentani wines, plus the owner's own superb dried white Cilento figs.
Depending on what you want to spend, Rossellini's in Ravello (in the Palazzo Sasso) has two Michelin stars and prices to match. But I haven't eaten there. I can recommend Al Ristoro del Moro, however. When you are in Praiano, I would recommend driving to Montepertusso (above Positano) and dining at Dona Rosa. You can trust your servers to recommend the best wines for you.