Tag Archives: Campania

Variety Show: Spotlight on Aglianico

Check out on Flora’s Table the new post in the Variety Show series, this time putting the Aglianico grape variety in the spotlight! Discover cool facts about its origins, DNA profiling, main appellations and recommended producers.
Enjoy! ūüôā

Flora's Table

StefanoToday’s grape variety in the spotlight is… Aglianico, together with its clone Aglianico del Vulture.

1. Aglianico’s Origins And History

Aglianico is a black-berried grape variety that is indigenous to Southern Italy. The earliest written evidence of this variety dates back to 1520 referring to the grapes as ‚ÄúAglianiche‚ÄĚ.

Although it is widely believed that the name ‚ÄúAglianico‚ÄĚ comes from a variant of the word ‚Äúhellenic‚ÄĚ, hinting at a Greek origin of the variety, this theory is confuted by others (including the authors of Wine Grapes) who contend that the word actually comes from the Spanish word ‚Äúllano‚ÄĚ (meaning ‚Äúplain‚ÄĚ), thus referring to Aglianico as the ‚Äúgrapes of the plain‚ÄĚ.

2. Aglianico’s DNA Profiling

DNA analysis supports the authors’ theory as Aglianico’s DNA profile does not resemble that of any of the modern Greek grape varieties, while it is similar to Aglianicone’s, a Campanian variety…

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Wine Review: I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa “Vite Maritata” DOC 2011

Today’s wine is a very particular, small production Italian white wine from a little known appellation in the Campania region, namely¬†I Borboni,¬†Asprinio di Aversa “Vite Maritata” DOC 2011¬†($21).

The Bottom Line

I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa "Vite Maritata" DOCOverall, the I Borboni Asprinio was a good to very good white wine from an appellation that is not widely known, with a good QPR.¬†It had a very good nose, if not too complex, with nice citrus and flowery aromas and hints of herbs. In the mouth its crisp acidity was all the way to the top of the scale and it went hand in hand with a marked, pleasant sapidity, both of which were very nicely balanced by the wine’s creamy smoothness. I Borboni’s Asprinio is a solid, good-priced option to consider for a warm Spring or Summer day, either by itself or paired to¬†a seafood pasta or¬†Francesca’s asparagus and pea flan.

Rating: Good to Very Good¬†and¬†Recommended¬†Good to Very Good¬†–¬†$$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Grape Variety and the Appellation

While Asprinio has for a long time been considered an autonomous grape variety (and still is by many today), DNA profiling has recently showed that Asprinio is actually exactly the same variety as Greco, which in turn is close to Aleatico. Greco is a white-berried grape variety that is mostly cultivated in Southern Italy, particularly in the Campania region.

If probably the best known appellation for Greco-based wines is Greco di Tufo DOCG near the town of Avellino in Campania, ‚Äúthe‚ÄĚ appellation for Asprinio wine is¬†Aversa DOC¬†(also known as ‚ÄúAsprinio di Aversa DOC‚ÄĚ) which was created in 1993 and encompasses an area, always in the Campania region, near the town of Aversa and the city of Naples, requiring the use of a¬†minimum of 85% of Greco (locally known as Asprinio) grapes.

(Information on the grape variety taken from¬†Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012 ‚Äď for more information about grape varieties, check out our¬†Grape Variety Archive)

Harvesting Asprinio di Aversa (AKA Greco) Grapes Image Courtesy of the Town of Aversa

Harvesting Asprinio di Aversa (AKA Greco) Grapes
Image Courtesy of the Town of Aversa

The word Asprinio is a variant of the Italian word ‚Äúaspro‚ÄĚ which means ‚Äúsour‚Ä̬†due to the high acidity that is typical of the wines made in this appellation. Based on the¬†ISA wine pairing guidelines, this makes it the perfect wine to pair with¬†dishes with considerable latent sweetness¬†(please¬†refer to my post about¬†wine pairing guidelines¬†for a more detailed explanation).

Another distinctive feature of the Asprinio di Aversa DOC appellation is the traditional way to grow the local¬†ungrafted grapevines, where¬†tall trees serve as natural trellis, resulting in vines that climb up to 82 ft (25 mt) high and require the use of very tall ladders to harvest the top grapes¬†– the photograph to the right illustrates this singular grapevine growing method which is also known as ‚Äúvite maritata‚ÄĚ (literally, ‚Äúmarried grapevine‚ÄĚ).

About the Producer and the Estate

The winery that makes the Asprinio that we are reviewing (I Borboni) as well as their vineyards are¬†located in the town of Lusciano, near Caserta, in Southern Italy’s Campania region¬†and have been owned by the Numeroso family since the early 1900’s.

There, the Asprinio is still fermented and briefly aged in a¬†winery that was built in a cave 43 ft (13 mt) deep into the ground, right underneath the owners’ family house. This provides an ideal environment for making and preserving the wine, ensuring even temperature, coolness and dampness throughout the year.

Our Detailed Review

I Borboni,¬†Asprinio di Aversa “Vite Maritata” DOC 2011¬†was¬†12% ABV¬†and it fermented for 15 days in stainless steel vats, where it then aged for 6 months, plus an additional month in bottle. A minor gripe that I have is that the bottle comes with a silicon closure, which I just find cheap and unbecoming of a good wine… but maybe that’s just me. ūüėČ It retails in the U.S. for about¬†$21.

As usual, for my reviews I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.

In the glass, the wine was a lush golden yellow in color and moderately viscous.

On the nose, it was moderately intense (bear in mind that this wine really opens up when it is not too chilled: for me, it peaked at 58 F/14.5 C) and moderately complex, with fine aromas of citrus, orange blossoms, orange zest, butter and herbs.

In the mouth, the wine was dry, had medium ABV and was smooth; it was acidic and tasty, medium-bodied and balanced, with intense and fine flavors of citrus, orange, minerals and brine, with very accentuated sapidity and a medium finish. In its life cycle, the wine was mature, meaning drink now, do not hold.

Vertical Tasting of Marisa Cuomo’s Fiorduva

Marisa Cuomo, Costa d'Amalfi Furore Bianco During a recent trip to Milan, I participated in a pretty exciting (well, at least if you are into Italian wine!) event organized by the Milan chapter of the Italian Sommelier Association: a vertical tasting of six vintages of Fiorduva, the most awarded and acclaimed wine in the portfolio of coveted niche producer Marisa Cuomo.

About the Estate

Marisa Cuomo is a small winery controlling just 18 HA and producing about 109,000 bottles a year in an extreme and fascinating stretch of the Amalfi Coast in the Campania region in Southern Italy, near the towns of Furore and Ravello. Here the vines grow in narrow strips of land on the steep cliffs overlooking the Tirreno Sea, which make any kind of mechanical harvesting all but impossible. Commercially growing and harvesting vines here is an heroic challenge, with everything to be done exclusively by hand. Some of the older vines still grow horizontally instead of vertically, coming out of the stone walls that separate a strip from the one above it: this was an ancient local tradition that allowed land owners to have a vineyard and at the same time to grow vegetables in the narrow strips of land, shaded by the overhead vines. In those extreme conditions, every inch of land counts!

Marisa Cuomo, Vineyards in Winter

The team behind the winery is made up of Marisa, a strong woman who is in charge of the winemaking and bottling processes of their wines, Andrea, Marisa’s husband, who is the PR man of the winery and “Zio Luigi”, one of Marisa’s uncles who is in charge of maintaing the vineyards and harvesting the grapes.

About the Grapes and the Wine

Fiorduva is Marisa Cuomo’s flagship white wine, a blend of roughly equal proportions of three almost extinct grape varieties indigenous to the Campania region called Fenile, Ginestra and Ripoli.

Marisa and Andrea in their wine cellar

All three are white-berried grape varieties that are indigenous to and highly localized in the Amalfi Coast area in Campania.¬†Fenile¬†is said to derive its name from the Italian word “fieno” (hay) due to its straw yellow color. Fenile’s DNA profile is unique. It is an early ripening variety with high sugar levels.¬†Ginestra¬†draws its name from the homonymous Italian word which means broom, because of its dominant aroma. It is a late ripening variety with high acidity levels and with aging the wines made from these grapes may develop kerosene-like aromas similar to those that may be found in certain Riesling.¬†Ripoli¬†is a mid-ripening variety which is genetically close to Falanghina Flegrea and presents high sugar levels and moderate acidity (information on the grape varieties taken from¬†Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz,¬†Allen Lane¬†2012).

It is noteworthy to mention that the average age of the vines devoted to the Fiorduva production is 80 years: you could certainly call them “old vines”! The appellation of Fiorduva is¬†Costa di Amalfi DOC, subzone Furore. Among its many awards, Fiorduva has won the 5 clusters top rating in the ISA wine guide and the 3 glasses top rating in the Gambero Rosso wine guide.

Zio Luigi working in the vineyard

Our Detailed Review and Vertical Tasting

Now, let’s get down to the vertical tasting of Fiorduva: as I said, we have been offered the opportunity to taste¬†six vintages, starting from the latest (2011) all the way back to 2006. I found Fiorduva (which I had never had before, despite being aware of all the praise it received) a very special and “seducing” wine, definitely worth investing in a bottle if you come across one. Incidentally, Fiorduva is available in the U.S. where it retails for about $50, certainly not an inexpensive buy.

Among the six vintages that I tasted, in my view by far the best, most intriguing one was 2006, the oldest in the range, which vouches for the good aging potential of Fiorduva for a white wine. The vintages 2007 to 2009 were also extremely good, with 2008 perhaps having a slight edge over the other two. Finally, 2010 was good, but would certainly benefit from at least one more year in the bottle, and 2011 was pleasant, but not entirely balanced yet, with acidity and minerality tending to overwhelm the smoothness of the wine: definitely too young to be enjoyed at its fullest.

Now, to make you understand a bit more what kind of wine to expect should you lay your hands on a bottle, below is my review of my personal favorite: Marisa Cuomo,¬†Costa d’Amalfi Furore¬†“Fiorduva” DOC¬†2006 ($50).

My review is based on a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting sheet (for more information, see my previous post that provides a detailed overview of it).

In the glass, the wine poured a luscious golden yellow in color, and it was thick when swirled, indicating a good structure.

On the nose, its bouquet was intense, fine and complex, with aromas of apricot, peach and banana coupled with minerals and hints of petroleum and nail polish (by the way, these last two descriptors are not to be intended as negative and do not signify any flaws in the wine, they just indicate certain peculiar aromas that can be found in the Fiorduva Рhints of petroleum, for instance, can often be found in certain Rieslings).

In the¬†mouth¬†it was dry, with high¬†ABV and smooth;¬†acidic¬†and tasty: definitely a balanced wine with a¬†full body. There was also a good correspondence between the mouth flavors and the bouquet. It had a long finish, with the wine’s intriguing flavors lingering in your mouth for a long time. In terms of its life cycle, I would call 2006 mature, meaning that I think the wine is now at its apex and would not benefit from any additional aging.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Fiorduva is an outstanding, intriguing wine which is the heroic expression of a harsh land, human tenacity and a sample of Italy’s treasure chest of indigenous grape varieties. Certainly worth a try if you come across a bottle.

Rating: Outstanding and definitely Recommended Outstanding  Р$$$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)