Today’s episode functions Maze Row Wine Merchant’s prestigious partner, Tornatore, which is produced on Sicily’s Mount Etna. Yes, that Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. In truth, the Tornatore household started growing grapes in Etna in 1865, making them the most established white wine growing households there. To attempt Tornatore wine, follow the link in the episode description to TheBarrelRoom.com, where you’ll discover Rosso, Red, and Bianco Gewurztraminer.
On this episode of “Wine 101,” VinePair’s tastings director Keith Beavers checks out Campania and its heavy ties to the ancient world. In the episode, we’ll break down how to understand this remarkable white wine area on the American market and present you to a few of your new favorite white wines. Tune in for more!
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Keith Beavers: My name is Keith Beavers and I just recently discovered that when you own a feline, you essentially own a wild animal. That’s remarkable. And they’re adorable.
What’s going on, white wine enthusiasts? From the VinePair Podcasting Network. This is “Wine 101.” My name is Keith Beavers. I am the tastings director of VinePair and what is great? We are leaving northern Italy and we are going to Campania where Naples is the capital. Yeah, Naples. If you have actually been to Naples and you’ve had the red wine there and you’re a little bit confused, or if you haven’t and you need to know more about it, this is the episode for you. We’re going to get nice with Campania.
Wine fans, prepare to fall in love. Prepare to fall for the names of grapes and red wines that you may have never become aware of. Was that intense? That was kind of extreme, ideal? Get ready to fall in love, wine enthusiasts. The thing about “Red wine 101” is this is an instructional podcast, however I can not deny my love for specific red wines and I’m a human. And I imply, undoubtedly, you people know that I love Italian wine– like I actually enjoy Italian wine, and the region of Campania is kind of like the culmination of the wines that I love the most. It is such a wonderful red wine area.
And what’s actually wild about Campania is that Napoli, or Naples, is the capital of Campania, and that’s where we get pizza from. And neighboring is Pompeii, this was the … simply north of Naples, this was the Roman Empire’s yard, their play ground, their health spa day. It is even like … it’s a wheat factory. So is Sicily. However when we discuss Campania, we do not, we in fact talk about Napoli, which is all simply fine. However one thing that’s always mesmerized me is that when I talk about the wines of Campania and when I’m done, when individuals really taste these wines and you just see their faces going, “Oh my God, I didn’t understand these red wines existed. These are so fantastic.”
And I want this episode to be that for you. I desire this episode to be the episode about Campania that gets you delighted about these varieties and these wines that have actually been around because antiquity and seek them out. Because the other aspect of Campania is most of the red wines– well, not the bulk, the most popular and renowned wines in Campania are all over our market. They’re just sitting there in the Italian area and in some cases we glaze over them due to the fact that we can’t pronounce it, we don’t know what it means. But once you comprehend the generalities of the wines from Campania, you will have a good myriad of wine to take pleasure in that you may have never had before, that in fact might be your next preferred wine, and an actually remarkable classification of white wine to get your friends into. Due to the fact that these are very incredible, age-worthy, crowd-pleasing white wines.
Have I hyped up Campania enough? Let’s enter it. In modern-day times, we can state that France is the center of white wine, right? They developed the red wine appellation system that was copied all over the world. Their terms, their treatments, and their method is typically carbon copied throughout the world, which’s totally awesome. In antiquity, that was Campania. This was an online for Pliny who was … you’ve probably heard me point out Pliny a few times through these episodes. He was one of the very first white wine critics from antiquity. This was the place of Pompeii, like I said, and from the Lazio border … So you have Campania, simply north of Campania is Lazio and that is the area where the heart of power was, that’s where Rome is.
But just south of Lazio is the northern border of Campania. And if we go from the coast of the northern part of Campania all the method down previous Naples, continue going all the method to the southern part of Campania, practically that entire shoreline has white wine regions on it. And human activity in this location was just , even as it is now in Naples and as we decrease that shoreline, we find artifacts and we see residues of white wine being made all the way back to Roman times. And through this archeological evidence, through paperwork and real findings of physical things, we’re seeing that there were actual wine regions in Campania and the wines were named after the regions they were made in. It’s practically like– I’m going to state this. It’s going to get me in a great deal of difficulty but I’m going to state this– it’s almost like stating, “I like wines from Napa Valley” prior to there was even an AVA called Napa Valley.
These were red wines with names like Surrentine, Falernian, Massic, and these were places, or if the wine wasn’t called after a place, it was named something that showed up through the regional dialect of the location, sort of like the white wine Muscadet we discussed in the Muscadet episode where the grape is Melon de Bourgogne, however due to the fact that of the design of wine that’s made there, they call it Muscadet. However what’s actually terrific about Campania is that you have Napoli and you have this seaside life, the sort of Mediterranean-style environment in life, however as you go east into the hinterland of Campania, you begin entering mountainous regions. There are actually ski resorts in Campania today. And in that mountainous region, other red wines ended up being popular.
And I think the factor I’m saying all this is because I can’t go into a full history of Campanian wine, however what I can do is say that the varieties that I’m speaking about that were making these well-known white wines in antiquity are usually believed to be the grapes making wine in Campania today, like a complete connection from ancient world to modern-day times. The important things about these grapes in Campania is they’re so old. A few of them are so old, DNA profiling can not find the parentage of them. So what Italians have done in the south is frequently give them Greek names in honor of where they think the grapes came from: Greece. Pretty incredible. And due to the fact that of all this history in Campania, the area itself has– well, with wine appellations, everything modifications all the time. Today, I believe it depends on like 20, maybe 19 or 20 different wine appellations, consisting of DOC and DOCG and IGP. For a great deal of information on appellations, have a look at the appellations episode from “Red wine 101.”
So to get you into this area, I’m not going to go through every DOC and DOCG, I just want to let you know that these wine appellations in Campania are not just tied to the history of red wine in Campania however their names are connected to the history of red wine. For instance, we’ll have, and this is not a simple one to state, Campi Flegrei. I may not be doing that right, but what it suggests is “the field of fire.” That’s such a cool name, and all it suggests is that this is a location where these natural day spas were where the Romans would hang out. And this is a terrific location for a red wine or a grape called Falanghina, which I’m going to speak about in a 2nd. There’s a DOC called Vesuvio, which is named after Vesuvio, which is another volcanic mountain in the area understood for its red wine given that antiquity.
I feel the best way to introduce Campania to somebody who does not know it yet or is not as familiar as they wish to be with it, is to start with the varieties. Due to the fact that of all of the appellations in the area, we focus on the ranges, and after that I’ll inform you where they are, due to the fact that the important things is, when you go to wine shops and look for Campanian white wine, for gewurztraminer, you’re mostly visiting the actual name of the range. For red white wine, it’ll be a bit various and we’ll enter that. But what’s truly distinct about Campania in fact is that it’s mostly a gewurztraminer region, which is kind of crazy considering it remains in the southern part of Italy. Which’s because from the coast of Napoli, let’s say, all the way inland to before we enter into this mountainous region, it’s primarily called alluvial plains. Alluvial is a word used for the fanning of product from mountains and hills that fan out into a valley after they fall down that hill. It’s called an alluvial fan, if you will.
This is the Mediterranean environment that you would think about when you’re in southern Italy. But the important things about Campania is it has this mountain region which mountainous region, because of its elevation, can really alleviate the temperature levels of the alluvial plains towards the coast. So since of this particular microclimate, or I ought to state macroclimate, gewurztraminers flourish here, and most of the gewurztraminers prosper in the mountainous area. There are 3 Campanian gewurztraminers you’re visiting on the American market made from 3 native grapes. So let’s go through them. The first one is called Falanghina — you’ll check the transcript for the spelling– but Falanghina is absolutely crisp, clean, high- toned, lemony, very aromatic, and in some cases floral white wine. It advises me often of the grape Assyrtiko in Santorini of Greece. It’s extremely crisp, very clean, however has a great deal of remarkable scents that type of enhance the minerality of the white wine.
And you’re going to discover these all over the marketplace. There are two particular places you’re going to find them from. One is called Sannio DOC which is a location that remains in the mountainous region of the hinterland of Campania. And you’re also going to see Falerno del Massico. Falerno del Massico is in an extremely hilly region all the method towards the coast, just south of the Lazio border in northern Campania, and this is where they think that the well-known and ancient red wine, Falernian, was made. And they do believe that Falanghina was the range that made this white wine. So it’s a DOC that harkens back and gives regard to the past; it’s called Falerno del Massico, and it’s going to be Falanghina.
The next preferred and popular white wine is a wine made from a grape called Fiano. And in this mountainous area of Campania there, this is where the DOCGs basically are, the sort of higher-ranking, more strict rule-based red wine regions because of their history. And there’s a town in these hills called Avellino, and this is the Fiano di Avellino DOCG. Why? Because this red wine, the Fiano grape, I suggest the name itself may come from the truth that there are wasps and bees. Fiano is a recommendation to the ancient Latin word for “fly” or “bee” or “wasp” or something like that. But what’s important about this range is it’s a gewurztraminer from Campania and it has ageability. I constantly discuss how there’s just a couple of red wines worldwide that are age-worthy; we do not talk enough about wines aside from Chardonnay and Riesling. Fiano can age for quite some time. It’s fantastic.
Oh, I indicate these wines are fantastic. They’re smoky with a bit of fruit depth, however excellent level of acidity. They have a roundness to them and in some cases they have a grip to them. But there’s such a personality to these white wines and to get the best, now you’re going to discover Fiano from all over Campania specifically in a place called Benevento, which we’ll discuss in a 2nd. But Fiano di Avellino is the purest expression of this white wine and when you attempt it, you’ll understand. Simply surrounding the Fiano di Avellino DOCG is another DOCG based on a white wine grape. It’s called Greco di Tufo. This is a great example of a gewurztraminer grape that is so ancient they can not discover its parentage, so they call it Greco di Tufo, which means the Greek white wine of this particular Tufo soil in this specific part of Campania.
And here we have in Greco di Tufo a gewurztraminer that is also quite age-worthy. And the distinction in between the Fiano grape and Greco di Tufo is that Fiano is extremely … it’s its own range. That’s smokiness, the lemoniness, when you taste the Fiano, you’re going to be like, “Is that Sauvignon Blanc!.?. !? No, it’s not. It’s too smoky. Oh, that’s just so wild.”Greco di Tufo is this extremely powerful gewurztraminer. It has very thick skins. It has a character to it, it has a depth to it. It has a structure to it. If you like Albarino from Spain, you ‘d probably like Greco di Tufo since of its heft. If you like Chardonnays, you might like Greco di Tufo because of its heft. However just like Fiano, Greco di Tufo can age for rather a long time. I’ve actually had Fiano and Greco di Tufo going back to the ’90s. And these are the most popular white wines from Campania that we’re visiting on the American market.
There are other white wine varieties in Campania that make actually terrific white wine, we simply do not see a lot of them on the American market. They’re grapes with names like Verdeca, Coda di Volpe, which means “the tail of the wolf,” which was quite cool, a recommendation to the method the lot develops on the vine, and a grape called Caprettone. And mainly we’re going to see these red wine grapes in blends, which we’ll get to in a 2nd since I wish to discuss the red wines. So there’s not a great deal of them. There’s 3. One is really, extremely essential. We require to speak about the red wine grape Aglianico, A-G-L-I-A-N-I-C-O. Aglianico was originally called Hellenica, which is a reference once again to ancient Greece and the regard and again, we do not know where these ranges come from.
So Aglianico, or Hellenica, as it utilized to be called. Red wine enthusiasts, this is one of the most age-worthy red wines in the world, however we don’t speak about it enough. We have Bordeaux, we have Barolo, we have Barbaresco, we have Champagne, we have Burgundy, and we have Taurasi made from the Aglianico grape. In those hills, the hills where we find Fiano di Avellino, the hills where we find Greco di Tufo, we discover among the most age-worthy grapes in the world, Aglianico in a location called Taurasi, T-A-U-R-A-S-I. And in the DOCG of Taurasi, I talk a lot about the purest expression of a variety– Sancerre for Sauvignon Blanc for instance– this here in Taurasi is the purest expression, it is thought, of the Aglianico variety. These wines are huge, huge, bold, lovely, definitely stunning, simply powerhouses of white wine that are also at the very same time type of elegant and rustic.
It’s a really strange, gorgeous, stunning red wine, the wines of Taurasi made from the Aglianico range. There’s likewise another DOCG called DOCG Taburno and which also makes wine from the Aglianico grape. The Taurasi DOCG is where you see the most effective examples of these red wines. Taburno is a fairly new white wine appellation, it’s an amalgamation of other locations, but it’s still sort of finding its identity. It has it there, but when you’re handling its neighboring Taurasi, it’s got some work to do. And we’re visiting a great deal of red wines on the American market from Taurasi, the DOCG. And these red wines from Aglianico in the Taurasi DOCG, they’re on a level cost point with Bordeaux and Barolo and Barbaresco. They’re expensive red wines, but they’re worth every cent. And I can’t speak about Campania and not mention Lacryma Christi. This is just wild, awesome stuff.
So the red wines I have actually been discussing, these are very structured, powerful white wines, they age for a very long time. I imply, just please attempt these white wines, they’re just extraordinary. Campania not just has these powerful age-worthy white wines, however it also has more spirited, fun, extremely rejuvenating reds and whites. And these are the red wines you’ll discover mostly on the coast, really the island of Ischia has red wine on it and Napoli itself, there’s wine made there just outside the residential areas. The thing is, in this location of Campania towards the coast, there is a red wine grape called Piedirosso, which implies red feet, and it is often combined with another grape called Sciascinoso. I know it’s difficult to say.
However what is very important about this is these grapes make a very rejuvenating, brilliant, nearly herb-y red white wine you can absolutely chill and take pleasure in a bit cold called Lacryma Christi, indicating “the tears of Christ.” It’s an old-school wine with a recommendation to, I think it was like “God wept since Lucifer was up to earth and then to hell,” and it’s generally talking about the lava coming down Monte Vesuvio and the lava creating, like, trenches in the earth from its lava circulation. Tears of Christ, God was crying. It’s type of intense. However Lacryma Christi is a remarkable red wine. You’re visiting them on the American market. They’re light, they’re herby, like I said, very berry-forward. And a lot of these other white wine grapes that I discussed, Verdeca, Carpettone, Coda di Volpe, Biancolella, all of these red wines are made also on the coast of Campania however are also combined to make Lacryma Christi white. And these white wines come from the Monte Vesuvio DOC, they’re simply not part of the DOC itself, it’s simply type of a design, sort of like the Muscadet design.
And they’re high-acid and rejuvenating, and I mean, you can imagine remaining in Napoli on the coast, drinking these remarkable white wines, or these rejuvenating red wines a little cooled, and consuming the food straight from the Mediterranean. I think it’s sort of a fantastic thing. And you can do that here with those wines because they are here. So this has actually been, I’m hoping, an excellent intro to Campania. It was an extremely general intro, but the key to this is to go out there and discover these wines. They’re really cool and they’re delicious and they could be a few of your new preferred wines. And it’s understandable you might not know about them due to the fact that they’re just sitting there and no one talks enough about them and hopefully this episode can get you thrilled about it. And if you try one you really like, go on and tag me on Instagram @VinePairKeith, I wish to see it, I wish to share it, and I want individuals to know that these white wines are out there remarkable and are being drunk. See you next week.
@VinePairKeith is my Insta. Rate and review this podcast anywhere you get your podcasts from. It really assists get the word out there.
And now, for some totally incredible credits. “White wine 101” was produced, tape-recorded, and modified by yours genuinely, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair head office in New York City. I wish to offer a big ol’ shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for developing VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most incredible logo for this podcast. Also, Darbi Cicci for the signature tune. Listen to this. And I wish to thank the whole VinePair staff for assisting me discover something brand-new every day. See you next week.
Ed. note: This episode has actually been modified for length and clearness.
E & & J. Gallo Winery is thrilled to sponsor this episode of VinePair’s “Wine 101.” Gallo constantly welcomes new buddies to white wine with a remarkable vast array of favorites, ranging from daily to luxury and champagnes. I suggest, Gallo also makes acclaimed spirits, however this is a red wine podcast. So whether you’re brand-new to wine or a connoisseur, Gallo invites you to white wine. We anticipate serving you satisfaction in moments that matter. Cheers. See thebarrelroom.com today to find your next favorite, where shipping is readily available.