Sunday, November 25, 2012

White Weekend...My BianchIrpinia 2012

So, was BianchIrpinia? a friend asked a couple of days ago.  BianchIrpinia 2012, an event held last week, 15-18 November in Aiello del Sabato (Av) organized by i miei amici Diana Cataldo and Massimo Iannaccone of Miriade & Partners SRL.    Wine tastings, dinners, tours centered around Irpinia's white wines. A Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Coda di Volpe, and Falanghina full immersion.

Before I answered I thought about when my BianchiIrpinia began.  Friday, the 16th of November in the lobby of my hotel.  It was there where I met Diana for a quick chat as she handed me my press kit and quickly filled me in on what was going on and what I had missed.  An amazing tasting of Fiano di Avellino 2002 and an entire morning of Greco di Tufo.  I had some catching up to do!

I did my best :-)

I had 40 or so hours to catch up and my first stop was Cantine del Marzo in nearby Tufo for dinner.  Dinner in cantina, wine tasting with fellow wine writers, photographers and wine producers in casual environment.
What better way to catch up with Luigi Sarno, Cantina del Barone, than over a glass of the lastest vintage of his  Fiano di Avellino 928?  The last time I saw Sarno was in August in his cantina, a couple of weeks before this baby was ready for the bottle. Angel Muto, Cantine dell'Angelo was present as well.  I tasted the first bottled vintage of his 2011 Greco di Tufo from a vineyard that we visited together over a year ago in Tufo.  One that sits on top of an abandoned sulfur mine.  He also shared his 2009 over dinner for a mini vertical tasting along with a plate of pasta and cod. For the record, I did have seconds of the pasta and the wine...

 It was also an opportunity to visit Ferrante Di Somma in his historical location in Tufo, try his Donatus Fano di Avellino and Franciscus Greco di Tufo for the first time.  After dinner, before a grappa and caffe', Di Somma opened up some older vintages of Greco to see how they were doing...1983, 1986, 1990.   That doesn't happen everyday.   Milena Pepe, Tenuta Cavaler Pepe was there with two wines as well...her Bianco di Bellona Coda di Volpe 2011 which was paired with our sushi, yes, sushi, appetizer and her Brancato Fiano di Avellino.

The next evening I found myself in Santa Paolina at Cantina Bambinuto.  Hostess Marilena Aufiero along with Maura Sarno, Tenuta Sarno 1860, and Raffaele Troisi, Vadiaperti had an intense evening planned for our small little group of wine writers.  I made a mental note of the changes Aufiero has made since my last visit in January included enlarging the wine tasting area and the purchase of her own bottling machine.

First up- Troisi with hs Coda di Volpe...two promising editions of the latest vintage 2011, including one that I want to learn more about Torama Coda di Volpe- his first bottling of his cru from the family's vineyards in Pietradefusi (Av).  Sarno presented a mini vertical of her Fiano di Avellino from her winery which has only been bottling their own wines since 2009.  We tried the each vintage, 2011, 2010, and finally the 2009.  Verticals are excellent chances to see how a wine evolves with age, note the particulars of a particular vintage year, try to understand what will happen in the future.Like when we tasted 4 vintages of Cantina Bambinuto's Picoli Greco di Tufo...2011 all the way back to 2008.  The winery's cru from her vineyard in Picoli known for producing Greco grapes with high acidity.  Other 'off the program' opportunities included a glass of her Greco spumante metedo classico in progress.  It will be ready in another year ish...

The real work, though, was in the main dining room of Hotel La Locandina in Aiello del Sabato (Av).  I missed the Greco tasting but was prepared to try 38 Fiano di Avellino wines.  I was asked if I preferred to perform a blind tasting, or if I would like a list which allowed me to see which winery corresponded to each bottled snuggled in the little red numbered bag.

I went for the blind option...the only thing I knew, then, was the vintage.  Bottles 1- 25 were from harvest year 2011, 26 -36 were 2010 offerings, and 37-38 harvest year 2009.

I tasted, I paused,  I snacked on crackers. I walked around, I tasted and re-tasted   And re-tasted again.  I observed other wine writers...some with note pads, others laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  Some in silence, others quietly discussing their notes.
I had my notes as well.  Several wines stood out, others sparked my curiosity, some were the 'norm'.  After nearly three hours I  concluded that I was very impressed with the 2010 offerings.  I had a few favorites in the 2011 crowd and headed my way to the press table where the answer key was handed to me by Lello Del Franco. I found a names that I expected to make my BianchIrpinia list, which by the way, is not necessarily rating of the best  wines, but a rating of those that stood out for me and/or those that I want to learn more about....want to understand.  The familiars?  Picariello 2011 and Pietracupa 2011, Villa Diamante 2010.  The not so familiar?  Masseria Murata, Vigne Guadagno, Zampaglione Pierluigi....all 2010 vintages.

During a buffet lunch, I had the chance to try wines that I missed the day before...I headed straight for Greco and Coda di Volpe...Once again, Pietracupa, but Terredora, Mastroberardino, and Calafe'.

Back to the question posed by a friend a few days ago.  How was BianchIrpinia?  A wine tasting weekend that with each sip of wine tasted, another million questions/curiosities popped into my head.  A wine tasting weekend where I bumped into wineries that I've visited in the past and met ones who I've never had the pleasure.  A wine tasting weekend where future vineyard hopping appointments were made.
The only answer to that question is ...

My BianIrpinia is not over...

A presto, Irpinia...

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