Story and photo by Manos Angelakis
Wines from Irpinia
At a recent tasting that took place in Manhattan, at Il Gattopardo restaurant on 54 Street, we had a chance to taste some white and red libations from Irpinia, an Italian region near Naples that produces exceptional wines.
The Irpinia name, from the language of a pre-Roman ethnic group that inhabited the region, means “land of the wolf.”
In this tasting there were 6 white and 6 red wines. The whites were from 2 iconic grapes, Fiani d’ Avellino and Greco di Tufo. The reds were also from an iconic regional grape, Aglianico. Both white grapes are ancient Eastern Mediterranean cultivars, probably of Greek or Phoenician origin. Aglianico grapes are also considered an imported variety, imported to Southern Italy by the ancient Corinthians that had colonized the Avellino province i.e. part of modern day Irpinia, and Northern Sicily. Most of these grapes and their wines can be found in Southern Italian vineyards but are now the most prevalent in Irpinia, Puglia, Basilicata and Campania.
In the past I have written about a couple of the producers that we also tasted this time Feudi di San Gregorio – known for their white Falanghina – and the Donna Chiara. In this tasting we had red Taurasi samples from these two wineries.
The white samples were from 4 recent vintages – 2017, 218, 2020 and 2021. Very nice and, even though the 2020 and 2021 still exhibited youthful exuberance, they were all very pleasant with peach and citrus aromas.
The reds were also from recent vintages; 2014 was the most aged and was almost ready to drink if you don’t mind some acidity – would be good paired with fatty beef dishes. The rest were 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The 2019 and 2020 were nice wines but were too young and in need of further cellaring to be enjoyable. The 2017 and 2018 were still young with a very similar mouthfeel mostly plum, dark fruit and cedar aromas and a medium length finish.
My evaluation for the individual wines:
Villa Raiano, Fiano d’ Avellino 2018. Nice mouthfeel, a bit acidic, nicely aromatic, quite dry.
Case d’ Alto, Fiano d’ Avellino 2017. Well balanced, less acidity than the first wine, citrus aroma predominant.
Tenuta Sarno, Fiano d’ Avellino 2018. Low acidity, highly aromatic with grapefruit and peach aromas, smooth.
Historia Antiqua, Greco di Tufo, 2021. Young, fruit forward, peaches and citrus, beautiful gold color.
Petilia, Greco di Tufo, Quatro Venti 2020. Still very young, pronounced acidity but fine, nice color.
Cantina di Marzo, Greco di Tufo, Vigna Laure Reserva 2020. Still very young with pronounced acidity. Nice finish with lots of minerality.
Where the reds were concerned; the 3 Irpinia Aglianico bottles all showed a similar mouthfeel, very similar aromas and medium finish.
Nativ, Irpinia Aglianico, 2020. Very young, needs cellaring to develop.
Macchia Santa Maria, Irpinia Aglianico 2018. Still young, needs more cellaring. Nice aromas.
Ponterotto, Irpinia Aglianico 2018. Similar to above samples.
Donna Chiara, Taurasi, 2019. Prunes and cherries on the nose, medium finish, still needs to open.
Feudi di San Greegorio, Taurasi 2017. Starting to develop nicely. Black fruit and cigar box on a medium long finish.
Fratelli Addimanda, Taurasi 2014. The oldest of the red wines tasted. Black fruit, sandalwood and tobacco on the nose. Slightly elevated acidity. Nice medium finish with cinnamon and pepper dominating. Ready to drink now!
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