Monday, June 14, 2010

Vineyard Hopping-Irpinia-Taurasi

About a month ago, I received an email from journalist/photographer Tom Hyland. He was coming to Italy-specifically Campania. and he wanted me to take him around Taurasi. How could I say no? I love opportunities like these…opportunities where I can share my Campania. Opportunities where I can appreciate and fall in love again with a region that has won my heart.

So…Saturday, June 12, I hopped into my Opel Agila, Autostrade A16, Benevento exit towards Taurasi. A journey that I have made many times over the past few years, but a drive that I will never tire of. Green, green, green. Vineyards here and there…silence…pace.

10 am appointment with Mr. Taurasi himself, Antonio Caggiano. Joining Tom Hyland and I was my friend, my Irpinia expert, Raffaele Del Franco, who knows the region like he knows the back of his hand.

When we pulled up in front of the winery, Antonio was hard at work, directing workers on his latest renovation project. A quick walk through his Macchia dei Goti vineyard, the cantina, and then we got down to business.

When a journalist visits form the states, he doesn’t want to just try the wines…he wants to experience the culture, meet the people, hear the stories. Caggiano did not disappoint. As we tasted, we discussed Taurasi, the town, the paese. We discussed its history, where it is now on the strade di vino…and where, in Antonio’s opinion, it has to go. Antonio has Taurasi in his heart, and at 73 years old is not ready to stand aside. He has a lot to do….Watching him express his passion for his work, his territory, his wines, and a thought came to me. We weren’t just wine tasting here, we were tasting Taurasi

Next stop. A 5 minute drive to Contrade di Taurasi, to the Lonardo family. Sandro and his son-in-law, Flavio Castaldo, were waiting. We strolled through the vineyards where we were met with vines that were over 100 years old. We stopped here so Tom could take some photos. On trips like this, wine is not the only topic. You discuss the weather, the soil, the altitude. You walk through the vineyards, look up close at the bunches...the baby aglianicos, as I like to call them. You step inside and have an aperitivo before lunch. You laugh, you learn, you live. You taste wine, but not with the typical technical card. You taste wine how it is meant to be. Over a meal, with friends. Exchanging anecdotes, opinions, jokes, barzelette. Experiencing…

1530, we arrived at our last stop, Il Cancelliere. This winery is located in Montemarano, about 20 minutes from Taurasi. Here the altitude is higher, the soil is different, and the wines reflect this. Vineyard hopping, with the Romano family, observing this winery’s 7 hectares while Dick the dog ran about. Immediately feeling part of the family while we toured the vineyards, the cantina, and eventually sat down in the kitchen for our wine tasting. The vintages here were discussed as well as the vinification process, the sugar levels, acidity. As we tried wines, we also tried prosciutto, cheeses, omelets with asparagus, and with cheese and onions. I sat back in my chair, observed, and ‘pinched’ myself. This is what it is all about, I thought. A real immersion into the culture. A real taste of what life in Campania is all about. The hospitality, the vivacity, the family. The desire to share, the openness, the sensation that you have known someone for years even if you have just met.

So it wasn’t just about the wines for me on this visit, though I  must admit that I did try some nice ones this trip. Here is a list of the wines that I had the pleasure of sharing on this particular day.



Cantine Caggiano

Fiagre IGT 2009 (70% Fiano di Avellino, 30 % Greco di Tufo)

Bechar DOCG 2009 (Fiano di Avellino)

Devon DOCG 2009 (Greco di Tufo)

Taurì IGT 2008 (Aglianico)

Salae Domini IGT 2006 (Aglianico)

Taurasi Macchia dei Goti DOCG 2006 (Aglianico)

Contrade di Taurasi

Grecomusc’ IGT 2008 (Bianco)

Taurasi DOCG 2005

Taurasi Riserva DOCG 2005

Taurasi DOCG 2007 (sneak preview)

Taurasi DOCG 2007 (sneak preview from the vineyard in Cascalata)

Taurasi DOCG 2007 (sneak preview from the vineyard in Piano di Montevergine)

Il Cancelliere

Gioviano DOC 2007 and 2006 (Aglianico)

Gioviano DOC 2008 (sneak preview…not available yet)

Nero Nè DOCG 2008 (Taurasi-Aglianico…sneak prevew, still in the barrels)

Nero Nè DOCG 2007 (sneak preview)

Nero Nè DOCG 2006 and 2005

Nero Nè DOCG 2005 Riserva

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