Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Late Monday afternoon....1700 ish, May 23, 2011.Vitignoitalia. I was sitting in the front row in Sala Degustazione C of Castel dell’Ovo in Mergellina, Naples, waiting for a Fiano wine tasting to begin. But in reality, for me, this tasting had already begun. It began last year, June 5th to be exact, during Anteprima Irpinia. It was there where I met Raffaele Pagano, Joaquin, for the first time in a vineyard in Lapio (Av) as he poured me a glass of his Fiano.

But back to Napoli…back to the castle…back to the front row. Pagano was about to talk about his Fiano…two Fiano di Avellinos actually, that he has experimented with over the years. He used a word; Sottozone…one that has been used often in Irpinia. A term that basically defines a wine’s origins in respect to where the vineyard is located, down to the hectre. A spotlight on the territory. And according to Pagano, Irpinia is perfect for these types of experiments. Why? Each area is different in terms of climate, altitude, soil composition, sun exposition, etc., etc, etc,

So Pagano reintroduced me to Joaquin. Joaquin. A winery that loves to try something different. His cantina is practically a laboratory…Every year is different, so why not a different wine? Montofalcione…sottozone numero uno, was where Pagano started. Vino della Stella Fiano di Avellino 2009 DOCG. A wine with a beautiful golden color, thanks to maceration with the grape skins. Aromas were not the usual for a Fiano from Lapio, at least in my opinion…here was a nice note of minerality, salinity, closely followed by light fruit. Acidity, communicator/journalist Giulia Cannada Bartoli mentioned. Flavorful…It is a wine that doesn’t bore you. It can be drunk on its own.

Camparo…another area, sottozone, to be examined. And this would be looked at through a golden glass of JQN 203Fiano di Avellino 2007 IGT. Joaquin decided that for this wine, they would let it spend some time in wooden barrels. But not French oak. Acacia. A choice that Joaquin believed would not invade, but caress. Many believed that it gave it a something different, diversa. AIS Campania President, Nicoletta Gargiulia described aromas of honey, star anise. To the palate it was fresh, dry, warm, and persistent. That this wine was flavorful…with a good acidity.

Throughout the tasting, the conversation went from technical to casual. It was almost as if we weren’t at a formal a ‘wine tasting’ but in a living room, around a dinner table, or walking through the vineyards. Like when I first met Pagano almost a year ago. Tasting a wine…tasting a territory. And as we got up to leave, I still felt that this tasting wasn’t over. I’m not finished with Joaquin, yet.
I’ve still a lot to learn about sottozone…Fiano…and Joaquin…

Italian Version

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