Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vineyard Hopping- Santa Paolina (Av)-Cantina Bambinuto

Marilena Aufiero has an unforgettable smile. One that I’ve seen from a distance on several occasions over the past several months. In the vineyards during Anteprima Irpinia, Behind various ‘banco di assaggi’ at numerous wine fairs; Vitigno Italia, Enoteca Regionale in Taurasi, Grandi Vini da Piccole Vigne… numerous occasions, but for one reason or the other, I missed the chance to try her wines, to have a chat.

When I wanted to see Greco di Tufo up close and personal, a friend mentioned Cantina Bambinuto. Another opportunity, but one that I would not miss.

Cantina Bambinuto is located in Santo Paolina in the heart of Irpinia, about 500 meters above sea level. It is a small winery that packs a big punch. Like Marilena. Marilena, whose smile was not hampered by the cool autumn weather that hit Irpinia that week. She was more than ready for the upcoming harvest and proud to show me her vineyards and cantina.

The soil in Santo Paolina is full of clay. I don’t recommend taking a walk through the vineyards, then, after it has been raining all morning. But the vines did not seem to mind. Her Greco di Tufo was waiting to be harvested. Small grapes, the bunches quite compact, glistening in the sun.

A quick stroll then off to Via Cerro, 18. Marilena smiles continuously as she showed me around her small, cozy cantina.

We began  our tasting with a variety of wines. Wines from vineyards spread throughout Irpinia. Falanghina Campania IGT 2009 (Torrecuso) and Fiano di Avellino DOCG2009 (Lapio). Each wine proudly represented Irpinia and Cantina Bambinuto as well.

But I came for Greco di Tufo...and was not disappointed.

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2009 and Picoli DOCG 2008 wear the Cantina Bambinuto label with dignity. Both with a straw yellow color that was almost golden. Picoli, however, spends 5 months on the lees during fermentation. This was one of the reasons for its more distinct aroma and taste. Marilena smiles. Its time to move on to the stainless steel vats around the corner…Picoli 2009. A chance to try this Greco before filtration, before sulfites are added…in its pure form. A chance to enjoy again the aromas of peaches and a slight aroma of almonds right before bottling.

Another vat, another Greco di Tufo from Picoli, this one in the early stages of becoming spumante, displaying its potential, its possibilities.

Afterwards I reflected as I looked on the shelves at other wines Bambinuto produces-Aglianico(IGT and DOC) and an Aglianico rosè. As I tried a glass of Taurasi 2007 from the barrel, I imagined what it must be like to experiment with different grape varieties as Marilena does. I thought about what it must feel like to work with a wine maker like Antonio Pesce, to learn from one of Campania’s best. How it must feel to buy a small vineyard and say “I’m going to plant Falanghina here”…try something new. How good it must feel to pour any of these wines for friends, customers and potential clients.

And as I drove away that afternoon, Marilena smiled.

And now I think I know why…

Cantina Bambinuto
Via Cerro, 18
Santo Paolina (Av)
0825 964634




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