Thursday, December 26, 2013

Greco and Fiano in Black and White - BianchIrpinia 2013

Cold and rainy.  Not yet icy.  That was the weather that  met me on the road to BianchIrpinia 2013 that late Friday afternoon.  If all went well, I'd have enough time to taste some of the latest vintages of Greco di Tufo.
Yes, I was ready for a wine tasting on the run weekend where I would trade in my rubber boots which accompanied me in the vineyards for a pair of black leather ones better suited for the conference room in Mercogliano (Av), the venue chosen for Miriade & Partners BianchIrpina.
Greco- una bella bestia - as journalist Paolo De Cristofaro calls it affectionately.  Certo, certainly not a wine that wishes to impress with intense flowery aromas. In fact, I wondered a few weeks later, is it a wine that wishes to impress at all?  And if it does, who?  Tasting the 2012 editions a year after the harvest is an interesting point in a young Grecos life.  I say young because Greco  a white which antsy in the vineyard more still in the cantina, desires time to express itself.  It's particular, genuine, distinct. And as long as that is understood while tasting, then it makes what you have in the glass easier to appreciate.
So I tried quite a few Greco Di Tufos from familiar vineyards and wineries curious to see what this varietal which thrives in its minerality and acidity would have for me that November afternoon.  I didn't have time to try them all, so I decided to check out a few that caught my curiosity on the tasting list.  Wineries such as Di Prisco, Cantine Caggiano, Donnachiara, Di Meo, I Favati, Molettieri, Vesevo and Terredora stood out for me that afternoon with a silent promise to try again in a few months.

Quick tasting over just in time to prepare for a retrospective wine tasting of some of the older vintages.  Seven wines were on the table for us to try.    A Greco tasting with seven offerings from the 2008 and 2003 vintage.  Seven wines seems a small amount, but considering the small quantity of wineries who have held on to their earlier vintages, I looked at it as an honor to have a chance to open these wines and discuss them in a room full of journalist, bloggers, winemakers and producers.
I was served six from the 2008 vintage from Cantine Dell'Angelo, Di Prisco, Ferrara Bebito, Mastroberardino, Tenuta Cavalier Pepe, and Traerte. Exciting to note the freshness and sapidity of a Campania white once though to only be valid during its particular vintage year.  In the end, Pietracupa's 2003 which had the responsibility, for lack of a better word, to represent the vintage year...all alone.  A vintage year which wasn't as powerful as 2008. I though about that as I packed up my things to go.  It was late, and Saturday morning I was eager to try a few Fianos.

 Outside the temperature had dropped a few degrees, but I found a warm spot in the front row to try 40 or so Fiano di Avellinos that Saturday morning.  A Fiano tasting takes you on a different type of journey in respect to a Greco one.  If Greco was the beast...then here is beauty.  That doesn't mean it is an easy wine.  Fiano, at least the ones that stand out for me,  can be just as complex, strong headed and feisty.  Wines that want to wait a little longer in the vat...a little longer in the bottle before being released.  And luckily more and more wineries agree.  Highlights of my morning beginning with the 2012 Fiano di Avellino DOPs from  Cantina Del Barone, San Paolo (Montefredane) , Vigne Guadagno, Mastroberardino (Radici), Contrada Michele and Fonzone Caccese.  Pietracupa, Terredora (Terre di Dora) , Colli di Castelfranci and Caggiano.  I then passed on to the 2011s and 2010 with impressive performances from Molettieri Salvatore (Apianum), Rocca Del Principe, Villa Diamante, I Favati (Pietramara Etichetta Bianca). In the Campania Fiano DOP category - Zampaglione Pierluigi with not only his 2011 but his 2010 as well as Fonzone's Irpinia Fiano Sequoia 2011.

Then as soon as it began, my BianchIripina was over.  This year it was quick, short, but still sweet.  A tasting that left me with questions, comments, and curiosities.   On my way back to Naples, the temperature continued to drop.  Snow started to fall. I said goodbye to this now more than ever bianchirpinia.  I'd be back...but next time, not with black leather boots. But with my familiar rubber ones...perfect for the vineyards and cantinas.

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