Monday, August 15, 2011

Vineyard Hopping - Castelfranci (Av) - Az. Agricola Boccella

Raffaele Boccella
Castelfranci...A small community in Alta Irpinia, in the province of Avellino. A paese where you can sit outside at a bar in the main piazza, enjoy a cappuccino and warm cornetto filled with homemade jam for only € 1.70. Where they still make maccaronara pasta by hand with a serrated rolling pin. Topped with fresh tomatoes from the garden and freshly grated cheese.

Castelfranci-600 meters above sea level. And from the balcony of a villa in the small village of S. Eustachio, there is a breath taking view of Paternopoil…of Montemarano…and if you look hard enough…the Calore River. I was on the balcony of Raffaele Boccella’s house. I admired the view as he pointed out his breathtaking vineyards. Vineyards that I wanted to see up close on my visit that late morning, right before the August sun became too hot.

I was in Irpinia to visit Azienda Agricola Bocella. The cantina is small, Raffaele Boccella mentioned as he opened the cantina door. Small in size, I thought, but it definitely gets the job done. In this small cantina attached to the family’s home is where three wines are produced using their own Aglianico and Fiano grapes. A quick look around at the barrels, the stainless steel vats, and then it was down to the vineyards.

It was already starting to get warm as we started our tour of vines that date back 50 years. Aglianico and Fiano grapes enjoying their position here in Castelfranci. Living comfortably amongst century old olive trees. In soil that is clayey, in some spots looser than others. Vines tied to wooden poles with salice, a wooden twig that embraces the vine. Grapes about to change color, still time to fully mature for an early November harvest. During our stroll through the vineyards, Raffaele shared with me the Boccella story. A story that began in his family almost 50 years ago. In this vineyard, this terrific territory. When his father harvested grapes and sold to other wineries. Harvested grapes and made wines for themselves as well. And like many grape growers in Irpinia, when the cost of grapes started to plummet, Raffaele, and his brother Giovanni made the decision to bottle their own wines. And with their enologist and friend, Sebastiano Fortunato, their first vintage that they bottled, labeled, and put on the market was back in 2005. He spoke of life in the vineyard, the challenges of meeting standards for an organic winery, which he informed me will be official next year. Challenges, but great satisfaction as I was about to find out as we headed back to the house for our wine tasting.

Noon was approaching, and my curiosity for Boccella’s Fiano was growing as he and his wife Angela prepared the glasses for our wine tasting. And on their kitchen table, vintages of Casefatte Campania Fiano IGT 2010 and 2009. Both giving a different view of  Castlefranci in my glass. 2010, for the first time, Boccella macerated and fermented with the skins in wooden barrels for five days. And though it had been bottled for only a month, an aroma of grapefruit was present along with a sapidity that spoke well of the territory. 2009 had the advantage of more time in the bottle. Excellent evidence of this wine’s ability to age. The white fruit aromas were sweeter, more mature.

But I was in Aglianico country, so to speak, and my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to the numerous bottles that Raffaele was placing on his kitchen table. Where should we begin? Rasott?


Ok…if you’d like… was my response, trying to suppress a smile, and a little excitement. Rasott is Bocella’s Aglianico, Campi Taurasini DOC. I began a mini vacation through the 2008, 2007, and 2005 – where it all began. Warm and wonderful red fruits floating up from the glass. Light touch of pepper from the small percentage of this wine that spends time in oak. And even as far back as the 2005, I tasted a wine that still had inviting tannins convincing me that this Rasott would have more to share in the future.

Taurasi? Why not. Boccella’s 2007, 2006, and 2005 were on the table and eventually ended up in our glasses. Glasses that showed off this wine’s intense ruby red color, dolce red fruits, its warmth, its tannins. At one point, I found myself meditating on the 2006. Trying to compare it to the 2007. Setting it beside the 2005. But then, I thought, why? Each vintage was its own. Each wine had its own personality, it’s own short history behind it. Its own long road ahead of it.

A road that on this particular day led me to Castlefranci. A small community in Alta Irpinia in the province of Avellino. A paese where you can sit outside at a bar in the main piazza, enjoy a cappuccino and warm cornetto filled with homemade jam for only € 1.70. Where they still make maccaronara pasta by hand with a serrated rolling pin. Topped with fresh tomatoes from the garden and freshly grated cheese.

Pasta that pairs nicely with good conversation around the kitchen table with new friends and a glass of Taurasi 2006.

Azienda Agricola Boccella
Via S. Eustachio
83040 Castelfranci (Av)
0827 72574

Italian Version



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