Live from Campania: Days 5 & 6 – Four More Great Wineries, A Palace & a Michelin-Starred Fairwell

Day 5 – 3 Great Wineries of Avellino, the heart of Campania

Today we head to the heart of Campania: Avellino. First we started with a truly superb tasting at the family owned Colli di Lapio. We had to switch to a smaller bus in order to get to the winery. But just like anything good, it’s worth the effort.

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Vin with Clelia Romano

Clelia Romano is one dynamite woman. In fact she is one of 3 female winemakers that we visited on this trip. Her husband, daughter and son-in-law are all involved in the business. Her speciality is fiano; in fact it’s safe to call her the Diva of Fiano. She consistently gets 3 bicchieri awards for her fiano and until recently was the only wine she made. Then to name other wines after her grandkids, she had to develop 2 other wines. This was personally my top visit.

We tasted the following wines:

  • Fiano 2015 – golden, lush, full bodied
  • Fiano 2012 – what a difference 3 years of aging makes with her wine – it had a fuly developed fragrant bouquet which was a pleasure to drink
  • Fiano 2013 – still closed, and needs time
  • Greco di Tufo 2015 – a fragrant lush wine
  • Taurasi Andrea 2011 – which spent 18 months in small barrels- not a bad wine at all for a white wine specialist.

Then we headed to one of the top producers of Taurasi, Antonio Caggiano. Although it had been 10 years since our last visit, I recognized him immediately. He has a fascinating cellar full of history and charm and definitely worth a visit.

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Antonio Caggiano

After our tour we had lunch at his personal facility with all local delicacies, accompanied by the following wines:

  • Fiagra – a blend of 70% fiano and 30% greco
  • Bechar fiano ’15 – a very concentrated wine from a hot season
  • Taurasi 2012 Macchia dei Goti – paired with the same wine from the 2001 vintage so we can see how they age. The ’01 still needed time!
  • Antonio topped off our meal with his Grappa

Day 5 ended with a visit to Salvatore Molettieri, the ‘top producer of Taurasi’ according to Robert Parker. Salvatore and 2 of his 4 sons escorted us on a tour of the small (50,000 bottles) winery and then a tasting of his superb wines:

  • Fiano Apianum 2013 with notes of hazelnut
  • Irpinia 2012, made from aglianico from his esteemed Cinque Querce vineyard
  • Taurasi ’09 & ’07 Cinque Querce
  • and the Taurasi ’05 Riserva Cinque Querce

All of them gems, enjoyable now with soft tannins, although the Riserva definitely needed a few more years, and can last easily 30 years.

Day 6 – More Great Wine; the Palace of Caserta; and a Michelin-Starred Fairwell

Our last winery visit was on Day 6 when we drove to Caserta and the little village of Castel Campagnano where we were greeted by Manuela Piancastelli and her husband Peppe Mancini of Terre del Principe. Peppe took over his uncle’s vineyards 25 years ago and discovered some grape varieties that had been completely forgotten: Pallagrello in both red and white varieties, and casavecchia, including some vines that were 150 years old.

Walking through the village was like a time machine, especially visiting the aging cellar dating back 1,000 years! They own 11 hectares of vineyards and produce their 50,000 bottles from only their grapes. With our lovely ‘light’ lunch we were served the Le Sèrole 2014, from the white Pallagrello. They received a 3 bicchieri for their 2013 in this year’s Gambero Rosso competition. The 2014 vintage was more rainy and hence thinner than the ’13. But it was more fragrant and delicate. This was served with a zucchini omelette.

Next came their Centromoggia 2012, from the casavecchia grape,- soft tannins that went well with the panecotto; last came the Manuela Piancastelli 2012, a deep, almost black color, from a blend of Pallagrello and Casavecchia, with 10% late harvest Pallagrello which gave it a softness that everyone loved and went very well with the wild boar.

I overheard a lot of people saying that this was their favorite winery with their favorite wines. We will find out shortly what were the top 5 favorite wines because at our farewell dinner at the 1 star Michelin Re Mauri, everyone turned in a list with their top 5 choices. Those results will be published shortly.

[UPDATE: the results are in – here’s the Top 5 Wines and Wineries of Campania as voted that night by our tour participants here]. 

As we said goodbye to Campania, 17 people continued with me as we traveled to Sardinia for our next tour which begins shortly.

For more details on the wines, wineries, restaurants and much more, be sure to check out our daily blogs from Campania below:

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