January is not necessarily the best time to visit a winery’s vineyards. The soil is wet; it can be windy and cold. I was not discouraged however, so one afternoon I called Emanuela Russo, and arranged a visit to Cantina Astroni.
Astroni is located a few minutes off the Agnano exit. I had been there on two previous occasions, Tintore Day in November and Terra Madre Day last month. Didn’t get a chance, however to ‘check it out’. Even on a cold windy afternoon, I was impressed with the views from the vineyard. Views of Naples, the islands, and the WWF Oasis. The Piedirosso and Falanghina vines were bare, naturally at this time of year, but Emanuela showed me how the Astroni staff has been pruning their vines in an effort to get them to about knee-high height. Why? Closer to the land, the soil, the rich minerals that give life to the vine to the grapes and eventually to the wine. A wine’s life begins in the vineyard. You can’t just pick a grape and expect it to make a great wine. As Emanuela showed me, they, as well as many great wineries monitor their wines in the vats on a daily basis. In fact, while she was showing me the cantina, her husband, and noted enologist, Geraldo Vernazzaro was doing just that.
Astroni produces the typical Campi Flegrei wines from their vineyards in the area, Piedirosso and Falanghina. I also learned that they do have vineyards in the Irpinia area so they also produce Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. A selection of sparkling wines and grappa also round out their inventory.
One wine that caught my attention was a Falanghina, Strione, which is quite particular. You may know that white wines usually ferment without the skins. Their brochure states, ‘The grapes, macerated with the peels for the whole of fermentation, express the characteristics of the Phlegraean area at their best’. I picked up a bottle while I was there and am still waiting for the right opportunity to try it.
I’ll share with you the scheda tecnica, though,
Type: Campi Flegrei D.O.C.
Vine variety: Falanghina Campi Flegrei 100%
Production area: slopes of the Astroni Crater
exposure southeast, 216 meters on the
level of the sea
Type of growth: guyot
Production per hectare: 60 quintals
Harvest Time: Second ten days of
Maceration with peels during the
whole alcoholic fermentation.
Fermentation: steel and 5 hl
Tonneaux for two weeks
14° - 16° C
Refinement: “sur lies” in
steel and wood for 9 months
and 6 months in bottle
Alcohol content: 13 %
Clear with a full golden yellow
color; complex, intense,
persisting scent with a very
wide bouquet which reveals
itself slowly in the glass. Floral
notes prevail, followed by
those of ripe fruit like apricot
and yellow peach and of
citrus notes in the slightly
Freshness, structure and
persistence are clear in the
mouthfeel, just like the typical
minerality and sapidity, almost
tending to salty.
After this visit, I am sure that Andiamotrips will come back in the early spring for a group tour, wine tasting and meal….What do you think?