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The Wines of Campania

Updated: May 25

The exquisite cuisine of Naples and Campania is renowned among many visitors, but what about the wine? Some of the best wines of Italy are produced in this region, but most of them remain relatively unknown beyond Italy. If you’re curious to explore new and interesting flavors but unsure where to begin, this article will guide you in the right direction.

Let’s start with the obvious: it is impossible not to fall in love with the sights, scents, and tastes of the region of Campania. Its capital, Naples, is a tremendous celebration of colors and surprises. Unforgettable destinations can be found all over the region, including the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno, Pompeii, Caserta, and more.

A lesser-known fact is Campania’s fame for its excellent wines. Are you eager to explore something different? It is time to uncork and embark on your wine journey!

The Wines of Campania – A Few Facts

Over 165 million liters of wine are produced in Campania every year – 60% red and 40% white. The topography of the region is highly conducive to grapevine cultivation, and the fertile land has turned the entire area into a sought-after agricultural destination. Red wines from Campania are characterized by their bold and intense nature, often exhibiting big and heavy characteristics. White wines from Campania are known for their mineral and floral notes, typically of excellent quality.

The region’s four most renowned wines have been awarded the DOCG status, which ensures traditional and meticulous production methods:

Taurasi DOCG

Produced from Aglianico grapes, Taurasi DOCG is an impressive and classically ‘big’ wine – full-bodied, complex, and with high aging potential. Many refer to it as the ‘Barolo of the South’ due to the intense experience in each sip. The topography of the area plays a crucial role in this intensity: Aglianico grapes grow at 400, 500, and even 600 meters above sea level, and the limestone and clay characterizing the terrain influence the structure of the wine.

Taurasi is produced around the region of Irpinia, roughly 50 kilometers south of Naples, and is considered at the same time an ancient and modern wine: ancient because it was first documented about 2800 years ago, during the Greek rule of the area; modern because current production processes ensure a sophisticated, elegant product, rich in fruity and intense flavors, like black cherries, plums, and berries.

According to the law, Taurasi wine must be made with at least 85% Aglianico grapes. Other included grape varieties are local red grapes. Aging lasts at least three years, and for Taurasi Riserva, the aging is even longer – at least four years, 18 months of which in oak barriques.

Where to Try Taurasi Wine?

One of the most recommended and famous places to try Taurasi wine is Mastroberardino winery, which played a key role in reviving the ancient wine and producing it using modern methods. In 1968, the winery elevated it from obscurity to success.

Greco di Tufo DOCG

If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste one of Italy’s best white wines, now is the moment to make up for lost time. This elegant, mineral, dry wine, rich in aromas, is made from at least 85% Greco di Tufo grapes and 15% Coda di Volpe bianca grapes. This is one of my favorite Italian white wines, and if you give it a try, I’m confident it will become one of your favorites as well. One of its advantages is its perfect complement to fish and shellfish dishes. Imagine sitting in a small restaurant, overlooking Naples Bay, enjoying a plate of pasta in shellfish sauce while sipping cold Greco di Tufo. What a delightful scene!

This wine is produced in the province of Avellino and has four versions: Greco di Tufo, Greco di Tufo Riserva, Greco di Tufo Spumante (spumante means ‘sparkling’, produced using the traditional champenoise method in this case), and Greco di Tufo Spumante Riserva.

Greco di Tufo grapes are related to another common grape variety in the area, Greco Bianco, which was introduced to the region thousands of years ago from Ancient Greece. The grapevines thrive at elevations of at least 400 meters above sea level. Thanks to the ideal weather conditions, terrain features, and substantial temperature fluctuations between day and night, this wine presents a complex and delightfully surprising profile of aromas and flavors.

Where to Try Excellent Greco di Tufo Wine?

Feudi di San Gregorio, one of the most famous wineries in Campania, offers Greco di Tufo as one of its flagship products.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG

Fiano wine is equally renowned as Greco di Tufo and highly regarded for its well-balanced mineral flavor with enticing aromas of orange blossom, nuts, and apples. Fiano, too, arrived in Italy thousands of years ago. During the Middle Ages, this wine was considered one of the most luxurious. Historical records from the 12th century indicate that it was one of the favorite wines of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.

The production method of this wine is also regulated by law. According to the regulations, the wine must consist of at least 85% Fiano grapes, with the remaining 15% comprising other local grape varieties permitted for use, including Greco Bianco, Coda di Volpe bianca, and Trebbiano Tuscano.

While produced all over the province of Avellino, the profile and flavor of this wine undoubtedly vary based on the specific production area within the province. For instance, Fiano wines from Lapio are known for their complex structure, pleasant floral notes, and high minerality. This area is widely regarded as one of the best. Fiano wines from Montefredane are celebrated for their exceptional quality, while Fiano wines from the hills east of Avellino are recognized for their robust aromas of toasted pastries and hazelnuts.

Where to Try Excellent Fiano di Avellino Wine?

Feudi di San Gregorio winery, mentioned in the section about Greco di Tufo, also excels at producing excellent Fiano wines.

Aglianico del Taburno DOCG

Aglianico del Taburno holds the esteemed DOCG status, making it the fourth wine from Campania to do so. Other wines in the region may hold DOC or IGP designations, or lack formal classification. This red wine doesn’t joke around: renowned for its intensity, heaviness, and dominance, it boasts aromas and flavors of cherries, licorice, ink, and black plums.

Where to Try Excellent Aglianico del Taburno?

Try Cantina del Taburno, renowned for its expertise in producing this traditional wine since 1972.

Falanghina del Sannio DOC

Despite not carrying the DOCG status, Falanghina del Sannio remains one of the most well-known white wines from the Campania region, earning numerous awards. By law, this wine must contain at least 85% aromatic Falanghina grapes. Falanghina wines come in various types, categorized by their production area and style, such as regular Falanghina, Falanghina late harvest, sparkling Falanghina, sparkling champenoise Falanghina, and more. Quality may vary, so it’s advisable to seek out reputable wineries that excel in producing this dry, floral wine.

Where to Try Excellent Falanghina del Sannio?

Try Fontanavecchia winery, renowned for its excellence in the region.

Falerno del Massico DOC

A pleasant, enjoyable wine, Falerno is produced from Falanghina grapes as well. This cheerful wine eloquently captures the pleasant sweetness of Falanghina grapes, making it ideal for the sweltering summer months. Originating from the province of Caserta, Falerno offers three distinct variations: white Falerno, predominantly crafted with at least 85% Falanghina grapes; red Falerno, consisting of at least 60% Aglianico grapes and up to 40% Piedirosso grapes; and Falerno Primitivo, exclusively made with Primitivo grapes.

Where to Try Excellent Falerno Wine?

Try the wonderful wines of Villa Matilde.

Ischia DOC

As expected from an island rich in volcanic land, Ischia boasts white wine of extremely high quality. Unfortunately, it remains nearly unknown! Ischia has a wine production tradition dating back 2700 years. In Roman times, the island was known as Enaria, meaning ‘the land of wines’. The island’s climate, sea breeze, and terrain contribute to a wide variety of enticing aromas in its wines. Ischia DOC offers no less than seven subcategories, encompassing both red and white wines. The most esteemed and renowned variety among Ischia DOC wines is the white wine crafted from Biancolella and Forastera grapes, cultivated on the slopes of Mount Epomeo.

Where to Try Excellent Ischia DOC?

Try the wonderful wines of Cenatiempo winery.

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC

In line with Italian tradition, this wine is accompanied by a dramatic legend. According to it, when the devil descended to the underworld, he stole a piece of heaven – a portion of Naples Bay. Upon witnessing the devil’s theft, Jesus shed a tear, from which grapevines used to produce Lacryma wine are said to have sprung. While some agronomists may question this tale, let us not dwell on minor details!

Caprettone grapes, used in producing white Lacryma Christi, and Piedirosso, used in crafting red Lacryma Christi, were both introduced to the region by the Greeks in the 5th Century B.C. Grapevine cultivation in the region dates back to ancient Roman times.

During the Middle Ages, monks who established great monasteries in the area perpetuated the agricultural tradition by planting grapevines extensively. To this day, the agricultural landscape remains largely unchanged, with the fertile, moisture-rich soil of the Vesuvius area still sustaining thriving agricultural practices.

Where to Try Excellent Lacryma Christi?

Try the high-quality wines of Casa Setaro.

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