Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vineyard Hopping - Torrecuso (Bn) - Fattoria La Rivolta

April was shining brightly as I turned the curves on my way to Torrecuso, Benevento.  I was on my way to Fattoria La Rivoltafor an appointment with ownerPaolo Cotroneo. I was excited about my first Vineyard Hopping visit to Benevento and  I was eager  to learn about his territory, his winery, and his wines.  I wanted to walk the vineyards that have been in his family for generations.   Soaking in the spring sunshine while standing in the vineyards as Paolo  spoke about his winery’s history it was hard to listen.  It was  hard to listen withoutimagining how it must have been like when his grandfather ran the property that Fattoria Rivolta calls home . A large family hard at work managing 120 hectres of land.  A family with 8 children, dozens of grandchildren.  A family with vineyards growing several varieties of international grapes smack alongside Campanian favorites such as Falanghina and Aglianico.  Back then, Cotroneo shared with me, the vines were trained using the Bellussi system.  A system where the grapes are grown wheel spoke style overhead leaving plenty of space for growing vegetables underneath.  That was farm life then.  Get all you could out of the land.  But times change.  When his grandfather passed away, the land was split up and given to each of his 8 children, including Paolo's father.  Over time, two siblings decided to reuinite and continue the Cotroneoagricultural dream in this slice of Campania. 

Paolo continues the story as we walk through the vineyards, as the light primavera breeze skips through the valley.  A story of how he, a full time pharmacists from Naples, with a passion for wine decided to become a sommelier.  And how back in 1997, when he completed the course, decided to spend more time in Torrecuso. But changes had to be made...
Over time, he replanted 50 % of the 29 acres that Fattoria Rivolta uses for grape growing...he decided that the winery would stick to Campania's autochthonous or indigenous grapes; coda del volpe, fiano, greco, falanghina, piedirosso and aglianico. He pointed out as we walked through the soil full of clay and limestone the vines that are now trained using the cordon spur and Guyot system.  How his vineyards are certified organic and have been since 1998. 

We walked through the cantina...where the wine is made.  We talked about his whites...his reds.  But we talked briefly.  Probably because Cotroneo believes that his wine should talk.  He told me that wine is the only beverage that can speak...tell a story.  It will tell you about the harvest year,the weather, the territory.  It will tell you about the men and women who made the wine, their struggles, their challenges, their wine making philosophy. 
And after our time in the vineyard and in the cantina, it was time to hear what Fattoria La Rivolta's wine had to say...

In a comfortable living room at a comfortable table at the family'sBed and Breakfast Le Vignelocated on the property, Paolo began our style.

Paolo Cotroneo
He popped the cork on a Greco Spumante Metedo Charmat.  A sparkling wine that knew how to sparkle in my glass with numerous and persistent bubbles rising up to the surface of my glass. A distinct flavor thanks to the minerality of the territory and 6 months maturation with the yeasts. 
 I asked Cotreano his opinion on white wines in Campania, their ageing potential.  Our discussion led us to try our next two glasses of wine; Coda di Volpe Taburno DOP 2011 and 2010.  It was here where I was beginning to understand a little more about whites in Benevento, in Taburno.  And as I appreciated the aromas in each glass, it was that  minerality found in each sip thanks to the terrain that would help this wine to age well.

A bottle of Falanghina DOP was waiting.  I had seen the label before at a previous wine event in Naples, but I had never tasted a glass.  2011 was the vintage.  A vintage whose intense sweet aromas will be hard to forget, but who would want to.  Grande struttura, great structure, Cotroneo mentions...true.

The story telling continued with two more young 2011 vintages. Greco Taburno DOP andFianoTaburno DOP.  Then it as time for a dream, un sogno.  Paolo's dream.  Sogna di Rivolta IGT 2010- a blend of Campania.  Falanghina, Greco and Fiano.  Aromas in continuing evolution, structure, sapidity.  Storytelling.

Le Mongolfiere a San Bruno 2010 DOCG.  An Agllianico rosè with its own color, character, structure. The first DOCG Rosè. Its story was shared on the back label.  Memories of two hot air balloons (mongolfiere) that landed near the vineyards at harvest times.  Memories of picnics, friendships, and family...
We discussed how this wine could be served year round.  It wasn't  asummery rosè. It would be fine with fish with a light tomato sauce, white meats, pasta dishes. A perfect choice for a sommelier who wanted to satisfy the needs of the various menu choices of diners in a restaurant.

As the tasting continued, so did my curiosity. My curiosity to try a Piedirosso from Taburno.  Fattoria La Rivolta's Piedirosso Taburno DOP 2010.  Not many grow this grape or produce this wine in Taburno.  It has a low yield, not economically feasible for most. But its young color and aromas definitely make it a wine worth trying,  especially those who like their Campania reds young. 

But for those who want a little more body, structure, tannins? Aglianico del Taburno would be the answer.  And Fattoria La Rivolta has two storytellers in that area. My first glass was an Aglianico del Taburno DOC 2008.  A wine that demands attention with its dark ruby color, deep cherry aromas, warm, smooth, flavorful. This base Aglianico is aged in large wooden barrels for about 18 months, then spends at least 6 months in the bottle before heading out of the winery.  Unlike its cousin, Terra di Rivolta DOP 2008.  Its story talks about 18 months in barriques, and 18 months in the bottle. Cotroneo tells me that I am trying an anteprima, a premiere, since this wine will head out of Torrecuso later this year.   An anteprima that has already been rated the 14th on the list of the top 100 red wines in Italy. Terra di Rivolta is nicknamed by some their riservadue to its longer maturation period. Cotroneo feels that it is a a different expression of Aglianico. He continued, but once again it became hard to listen.  Hard to listen to Paolo talk about this intense Aglianico still maturing, still evolving in my glass without thinking about pairing it with a nice grilled steak on a warm sunny day.  Without hearing the laughter of family of friends of generations past.
It was hard, but I listened.  I listened and learned a lot of what his wines had to say.  A lot  about the harvest year,the weather, the territory.  About the men and women who made the wine, their struggles, their challenges, their wine making philosophy. 
And I learned that Benevento is yet another corner of Campania which merits a visit or two.

Fattoria La Rivolta
Contrada Rivolta
Torrecuso Benevento, Italy

30 0824 872921

Italian Version

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