My appointment was with Ascione just off the A1 exit where I followed him to Cantina Casa Vecchia…a cantina where he has been making his wine for the last 2 short years of Nanni Copè’s young life. A temporary home, while his small cantina is being built next to his home about 15 minutes away.
I was curious…curious why Ascione; business consultant, sommelier, with a Masters in wine tasting, wine writer, and world traveler would choose this small corner of Campania to produce wine. His Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.
Over the course of the day my question would be answered.
I left my car at the cantina and we headed towards his vineyard in Castel Campagnao where his Pallagrello Nero and Aglianico grow happily side by side. Where these two Campania reds mature together in an area 250 meters above sea level. In an area with a spectacular panorama of Benevento, Mt Taburno, and Mt Matese. Here, where there is a wonderful breeze all day long. No wonder he jumped at the chance to purchase this 20 year old vineyard 3 years ago. His grapes which share the neighborhood with Terre del Principe. Not a bad location.
Here Pallagrello hangs from the sky. Walking through the rows, we ducked, reached up, touched, picked, and tasted the grapes. The same grapes enjoyed by the Bourbons so many years ago. Aglianico is content here as well. Here on this hill, with a northwestern sun exposure. THE perfect exposure for those in Southern Italy who want to make an elegant wine.
Ascione’s 2 1/2 hectares are divided in 4 sections that he manages by computer. Divided due to soil characteristics-rich-poor-green, etc. Soil that is sandy, volcanic…Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco (Sand on top of the woods)..fitting.
Casavecchia is the third grape that Giovanni uses in his wine. But it isn’t found here. It is about 15 minutes away in Pontelatone. Vines that are 1 ½ meters high are supported by poplar trees. Grapes surrounded by colorful fall leaves that cuddle and hug. Some are even hiding, waiting patiently for the harvest. One again we picked, tasted, and instantly note this fruity cherry flavor-a flavor that Giovanni describes as pazzesco, crazy. The tannins here are rustic, rough. Perfect for Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.
Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco...fairly new to the scene, the 2008 vintage came out this year after 13 months in the barrel and about 6 months in the bottle. It is one of the wines that Campania is raving about.
Back at the cantina, I get to try his 2010 that has only been in the vat for a couple of days. Then 2009 straight from the barrel. Barrels housed in a comfortably cool cantina around the corner. 2009 waits…passes its time good-naturedly. Who knows? Giovanni may decide to let this wine stay a little longer in the barrel than its older brother.
Throughout the day, I had to keep reminding myself that this is only his third harvest.
That Ascione’s one man show takes his years of experience as wine enthusiast, teacher, taster, writer, and traveler. All placed in a bottle…all poured in a glass.
A glass of his one wine, his only wine.
And that is why he has chosen this small corner of Campania… to produce a wine that could only be produced here. With grapes from a vineyard with a penthouse view of the surrounding mountains, sandy soil, cool breezes. With grapes from 140 year old vines standing 1 ½ meters high…Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.