Wednesday, April 7th. The day before Vinitaly. Trudging through the construction site which would become the Campania Felix Pavilion I notice a familiar face…a familiar smile. It’s Antonio Papa.
Antonio Papa from Azienda Agricola Gennaro Papa….from Falciano del Massico in Caserta.
Antonio, who I met several months ago at a wine tasting with Angelo Di Costanza at Enoteca L’Arcante in Pozzouli. Antonio, who now, was waiting patiently for his stand to be completed so that he could get the show on the road. We exchanged greetings and I promised to stop by for a chat during the fair. I kept that promise the next morning…glad I did.
Three glasses, three wines and a little conversation.
A conversation that focused on the primitivo grape (Falerno biotype).100 % primitivo used to make his Falerno, an ancient wine dating back to the 4th century B.C. Nettare degli dei, nectar of the gods.
A conversation that concentrated on the territory, his territory, near the sea, the foothills of Massico, where the soil is clayey and stony. The vineyards are 100-120 meters above sea level. Vineyards close enough to the sea that you can sense the profumo del mare.
A conversation that focused on his wine…we tasted three.
Conclave-Rosso 2007, IGT 14%
The grapes for this wine are harvested in the middle of September, 15-18 day maceration period, 6 months in stainless steel vats, then a light passage in barriques. Here we have a dark, intense ruby red color. I could note fruity aromas of plum, cherry, mature fruit. Antonio pointed out il profumo del mare e montagne, sea and mountains.
Campantuono Falerno del Massico DOC 2006 15%
This wine spends a little over a year aging in barriques before passing another year in the bottle. Antonio likes to experiment and over the years he has learned that wine made with the primitivo grape must have at least 13.5% alcohol content. Sounds heavy, in fact this wine reaches 15%. Ma ‘chi beve primitivo lo sa’, he who drinks primitivo knows. That’s the way it is…Once again intense ruby red, mature fruit aromas… a little toastatura roasted spicy aromas from the barrique. I could see myself back home, in front of my fireplace enjoying a winter evening with a glass of this wine.
Fastignano 2003 IGT (vino dolce) 13 + 2%
Passione, amore, dolce, cuore…This is how Antonio described this one. Only a few bottles of this left, I was honored to have a glass. 50% spends a year in stainless steel, the rest in barriques. Aged 3 months in the bottle. The next production will be available in October. Warmth spread throughout as I drank, very smooth, beautiful. Cherries, plums, cinnamon, figs, sweet spices, Dry, full, potente. We both agreed that it wasn’t your typical ‘sweet wine’… in fact Antonio was confident that it could be served with a duck in an orange sauce, for example, or salamis, cheeses that are a little speziato, spicy. Or even a good cigar…
I enjoyed my visit with Antonio..I enjoyed listening to him speaking passionately about his territory, heritage, and wine…I enjoyed discussing the particulars of a Campania wine that I am not familiar with…I enjoyed seeing the spirit of Campania, my Campania, through his eyes…