Thanks to the press tour organized for us by PugliaCampania&Co in the Benevento’s Sannio we had the opportunity to get to know two great protagonists of the world of wine: Taburno’s Aglianico and Falanghina.
Among the vineyards of the province of Benevento
Both have known alternating stories of excellence and oblivion, but have maintained their variety heterogeneity thanks to the volcanic soil, which is also present in the province of Benevento due to the eruptions of Vesuvius, and which has nourished the vineyards by limiting the spread of phylloxera destroyer of vineyards at the end of the 19th century.
In the province of Benevento, excellent grapes have been produced for centuries, expressing 40% of the vineyard area of the whole Campania with excellent wines, each different because of the terrain, exposure and altitude.
We began to make direct acquaintance with it in Torrecuso at La Fortezza, a winery that stands in the center of the vineyards where we walked together with Angelo, Lucia and Silvio who welcomed us in the name of the Rillo family, owner of the estate and of the villa with the large garden and the view on the peaks of the Apennines that separates Campania from Puglia.
Receptions are held in the elegantly furnished upper structure, while the actual production activity takes place in the one below. The area intended to accommodate the aging of the wine that rests under the barrel vaults in terracotta bricks is very suggestive, while on the same level there are the processing rooms where we could see the machinery for winemaking at work, between bottling and labeling, zigzagging between steel tanks and bottles.
Then it was time for the tastings that began with a fresh bubble, the Maleventum Vino Spumante Brut obtained from 100% Falanghina grapes harvested manually in boxes to be handled and damaged as little as possible. This is how you get this very pleasant Charmat method sparkling wine with a bright straw yellow color and a very fine perlage that in the mouth is dry and with hints of citrus.
After the dances were open, we continued with the tasting of a fresh Falanghina del Sannio Doc sub-area Taburno, with an intense fruity aroma that becomes soft and slightly acidic in the mouth. Acidity that becomes more marked in the rosé version of Aglianico obtained with a short period of contact with the red skins and with a white vinification process that releases hints of cherry, strawberry and rose in the wine.
At the end the Aglianico which in La Fortezza is declined in three versions among which the Riserva stands out, whose grapes come from a 70-year-old vineyard and which is vinified in purity, matured in steel and aged in oak barriques for 24 months and then in the bottle. We tasted Aglianico del Taburno, a “new” wine for us, which we found of great balance and remarkable structure, with soft tannins and an intense hint of ripe red fruit.
Between one glass and another and during the tour among the rows of vines, we were told about the future projects of the Rillo family cellar which includes a line of classic method sparkling wines that will be refined in the underground spaces of the structure.
So what to add? We will definitely come back to taste them!
So as we will return to the historic Cantina Mustilli, in the heart of the village of Sant’Agata dei Goti, which we visited together with Mrs. Paola in its historical part but where we promise to soon take a tour of the vineyards and the tasting of bottles of which we have admired the labels.
Mustilli through them tells family and territory with a “fresh” image that uses the paintings of their ancestors revisited in a pop key. The rediscovery of Falanghina del Sannio is due to the Mustilli family after a long period of oblivion in this very suitable territory thanks to the soils rich in tuffs, lava, pumice and ashes. From the 90s onwards Falanghina has been the base grape variety for various fine wines such as Sannio, Solopaca and Taburno which, despite their different characteristics, share a very pale yellow color with just hints of green.
We learn more, starting with the name which means broad-shouldered woman, through the tasting led by Giovanni Esposito, sales and communication manager of Cantina del Taburno, during dinner at Morisco Cafè.
Cantina del Taburno, located on the slopes of the homonymous mountain in the municipality of Foglianise, is owned by the Agricultural Consortium of Benevento founded in 1901, still today the fulcrum of the grapes that come from about 600 hectares distributed in the territories of Foglianise, Torrecuso, Vitulano, Campoli del Monte Taburno, Castelpoto, Apollosa, Bonea, Montesarchio, Ponte, Tocco Caudio, Paupisi and Benevento.
The Falanghina del Taburno is different from the one we know and which derives from the vineyards of the Campi Flegrei, which is characterized by high minerality and strong notes of banana, pineapple and green apple. In the glass emerge important floral notes such as tuberose but also the fruitiness of the annurca apple, in the mouth it is dry, intense, slightly spicy and reminiscent of hazelnut.
All this makes it an elegant wine that can also be paired with “difficult” dishes such as shellfish, oysters, fish carpaccio but also artichokes, asparagus and porcini mushrooms. Our tasting began with Folius Falanghina extra dry, a fresh sparkling wine obtained with the Charmat method from grapes subjected to soft pressing, in which only the first fraction of flower must is fermented at a low temperature. Followed by Falanghina Sannio Dop and, climbing in thickness but also in altitude, we continued with Cesco dell’Eremo PGI Beneventano, a white wine with a golden yellow character obtained from Falanghina grapes harvested overripe and then aged 4 months in oak barriques. The result expresses complex scents reminiscent of dried fruit, spices, but also wildflowers.
If the female part of the territory is Falanghina, the male part is the Aglianico who embodies the figure of the man from Taburno, gruff and all in one piece, but who melts by opening in the glass just like they do here when they know you better.
This is how Giovanni described it to us proposing Fidelis based on 90% Aglianico, 5% Merlot and 5% Sangiovese aged in barrique for 6 months: a wine with an intense ruby red color, with a warm aroma that tastes of ripe cherry, while on the palate it recalls the moods of the woods that extend between the Taburno and Camposauro, among lichens, mushrooms and chestnuts.
That territory in which this vine grows often forced to follow the impervious profile of the hills between olive and beech trees and which invites you to an unforgettable journey. The best time to tackle it is autumn, when the colors fade, letting all the sweetness of the slopes emerge among vineyards as far as the eye can see that extend to the foot of peaks covered by woods.
This is the landscape of Aglianico del Sannio, a wine of excellent quality capable of remaining young even after a very long aging. And this is the landscape that can be enjoyed from the Aia dei Colombi winery in Guardia Sanframondi in the Telesina Valley, the most densely planted area in the province of Benevento with 5,000 hectares of vineyards scattered among a dozen municipalities.
Here in 2002 the Pascale family wanted their winery that produces Aglianico and Falanghina from the grapes of the eight hectares of the company’s vineyards characterized by pedoclimatic conditions very similar to those of Pinot Noir, therefore subject to mold and acid rot that heavily compromise the quality some wine.
A Falanghina Passito IGT Beneventano called Jocalis is also proposed, obtained from grapes dried on racks until mid-December and then spent 24 months in French oak barrels and aged 6 months in bottle. The cellar, small but very interesting, makes respect for the naturalness of the processes its philosophy and this is reflected not only in the wine of the 60,000 bottles produced per year but also through the original furnishings of the tasting room with seats and shelves in ecological alveolar cardboard.