In addition to the huge number of Maggio dei Monumenti events that have been going on throughout the month, as promised, last weekend proved to be a wine filled festival of events befitting of Bacchus himself.
Actually, it was a weeklong celebration of wine that kicked off with the opening of Wine and the City at PAN Palazzo delle Arti on Tuesday May 15th. Now in its fifth year, Wine and the City is a win-win-win event for local businesses, wineries and residents. Pairing over 100 local shops with about half as many wineries this year, the four day event was a “wine-crawl” through the streets and the shops of Chiaia and Centro Storico.
Next up was Vitignoitalia, but not without a quick detour for Naples International Happy Hour on Friday at our favorite Chiaia watering hole Clu and to celebrate the last night of Wine and the City with our friends at Noi Salon on Saturday. Giuseppe, Massimo and Rick greeted guests while Brandy Falconer from Vox Vinum, another American transplant presented the Nero d’Avola and Bianco di Morgante wines of the Sicilian Morgante Winery.
But there was no rest for the weary and we were off to Vitignoitalia bright and early Sunday morning. Okay, it was actually about 4:00 pm before we finally made it inside Castel dell’Ovo, home to Vitignoitalia since 2009.
Somewhat smaller than in years past, the castle’s characteristic rooms played host to 120 vendors who came out to share their wines, Grappa and liquors with the public and to meet with prospective buyers through VitignoItalia’s One to One project.
Most of Italy’s major wine producing regions like Piedmont, Veneto and Tuscany were represented, but over half of the vendors came from Southern Italy. Sicily, Puglia, Calabria, Basilicata, and of course the Campania region which accounted for nearly half of the wineries. Representing all five Provinces of Campania: Naples, Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, and Salerno, cantinas large and small afforded visitors the opportunity to sample and compare a number of Campania’s some 100 native varietals.
As I was savoring Campania’s offerings, I started to feel a bit guilty about skipping out on the many cultural events of Maggio dei Monumenti. But then I realized that the craft of wine making is just another expression of the region’s cultural heritage worthy of preservation, celebration and promotion.
Here in the region that gave birth to Italian wine, some of the varietals are said to date to the ancient Greeks. Varietals like Aglianico which is expressed in one of the region’s best known reds, Taurasi and the white varietal, Greco di Tufo. The region’s Falanghina, which yields one of the most popular local white wines in the region and Fiano di Avellino are also said to have their roots firmly planted ancient history. Aglianico, Fiano and Greco are found in Campana’s four DOCG wines:
- Aglianico del Taburno (red) produced in the Province of Benevento
- Taurasi (red) produced in the Province of Avellino
- Fiano di Avellino (white) produced in the Province of Avellino
- Greco di Tufo (white) produced in the Province of Avellino
And then there are the wineries of course, many of whom have a long tradition of wine making in the region, some dating back several centuries or more. At the same time, these historic cantinas are constantly evolving. Taking complete advantage of modern technology they are outfitted with state of the art equipment and employ top notch oenologists and highly regarded sommeliers.
Campanian wines may still lack the attention and acclaim of their northern counterparts, but like all things Napoli lately, thanks in part to Vitignoitalia and in part to the dedicated wine professionals working throughout the region, Campanian wine production is experiencing it’s own renaissance.
And that’s something worth raising a glass to!