Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Campania Region
The Campania Wine Region
Main Article Contents
- 1 Territory and viticulture in Campania
- 2 The history of viticulture in Campania
- 3 The vineyards of Campania
- 4 The appellations of origin in Campania
- 5 The wine areas in Campania
- 6 The regional cuisine of Campania
Territory and viticulture in Campania
Campania, a region of ancient wine-making traditions, in recent times has been able to create wines of the highest level both from white and black berry grape varieties. Geographically speaking the cultivation of grapes in Campania is favored by the hilly (50%) and mountainous (30%) territory. The plain area represents just 15% of the total surface of the region.
In Campania there are more than 25,000 hectares of vineyards and a predominant production of black grapes. The prevalent training form is moving from the traditional pergola to the backrest and espalier, although the training methods of such a wide region may differ depending on the area. In Caserta the “alberata maritata” (vines groving on living trees, like elms) is still more or less widely used, while the tree is more prevalent in Avellino province and in the high hills and mountains areas in general.
The history of viticulture in Campania
The wine history of Campania has ancient origins, dating prior to Roman times and allegedly began with the arrival of the ancient Greeks in the region. The Greeks introduced the first seeds of vitis vinifera in Campania. The main native grapes of the region, such as Aglianico, Greco, Fiano, Falanghina, Biancolella and Piedirosso are in fact of Greek origin. The name “Aglianico” seems to come from the word “Hellenic“, i.e. “from Greece”. The contribution of the ancient Greeks was critical to the success of the wines of Campania during the Roman period. During the Roman Empire the cultivation of grapes had a great development and wines from Campania were also exported outside the Italian peninsula. Many of the famous wines of the time, as the Calenus, Faustiniano and particularly Falerno, were produced in Campania. Pompeii became a major wine trading center of Campania. From the ports of Pozzuoli and Sinuessa tens of thousands of hectoliters reached the Mediterranean countries. The end of the Roman Empire brought to the decline of viticulture in Campania until the Middle Ages, one of the darkest periods for grapes and wine in this region. Even in the medieval period, however, some wines of Campania met some success. In 1300 the strong acidity of the Asprinio grape was recognized as an advantage for the production of sparkling wines and in 1700 many traders used to come to Aversa for buying the grapes used to make “wines with bubbles”. The end of the century marked a new decline for winemaking. The powdery mildew and phylloxera arrived in Campania much later than elsewhere, but the viticulture however, suffered extensive damage. The importance of quality production in winemaking was only recognized since the early 1980. Recently the wines from Campania are experiencing an incredible success and great interest from consumers worldwide, both for white and red wines. The white Greco di Tufo, Fiano of Avellino, Falanghina and Taurasi and various interpretations of Aglianico as reds are just some examples that make Campania one of the most interesting regions of Italy from the winemakig point of view.
The vineyards of Campania
The heritage in terms of grape varieties in Campania is extremely rich, particularly regarding indigenous grapes, many of them recently rediscovered and valued as they deserve and from which the most interesting wines of Campania are made. Among the white indigenous grapes of Campania Asprinio, Falanghina, Fiano, Greco, Coda di Volpe, Pallagrello bianco, Biancolella and Forastera. Among the indigenous red grapes, the Aglianico, Piedirosso (aka Per’e Palummo, namely Pigeon Foot), Sciascinoso, Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia. This variety has been forgotten for years and only recently rediscovered. It’s capable of producing red wines of great elegance, richly colored thanks to an anthocyanin content higher than the one of Aglianico .
The appellations of origin in Campania
For many years the Taurasi DOCG was the only wine in Campania recognized with the Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin. Since 2003 the Greco di Tufo DOCG and Fiano of Avellino DOCG also added up to the list. In the region also interesting PGI (IGT) wines are produced with either native and iternational grape varieties. Currently in Campania there are 4 DOCG, 2 for white wines and 2 for red wines and 14 DOCs, flanked by 10 IGT stating the wine-making vocation of the region. Among them the beautiful vineyards at the foot of Vesuvius, in the islands of Ischia (Ischia DOC) and Capri (Capri DOC), on the Sorrento Peninsula, (Penisola Sorrentina DOC) in the province of Caserta (Falerno del Massico DOC), of Benevento (Aglianico del Taburno o Taburno DOCG) in the area of Colli del Sannio (Falanghina Sannio DOC and Sannio DOC) and of the Valle Caudina. 20 agricultural PDO and PGI, e.g. Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, the Pomodoro San Marzano DOP and Limone di Costa d’Amlfi IGP. Among them four appellations for the Extra virgin Olive Oil.
The wine areas in Campania
The highest concentration of vineyards is in the province of Avellino, where Taurasi DOCG, Greco di Tufo DOCG, Fiano of Avellino DOCG are located and Benevento province with the Sannio DOC and Taburno DOC.
Taurasi and Aglianico
The most important area for Aglianico is Irpinia, the province of Avellino, where Taurasi, its best wine, is made. Also known as the “Barolo of the South”, the Taurasi is a very rich, concentrated, complex, elegant and surprising wine. Aglianico also gives interesting red wines in the Taburno DOC, province of Benevento. Aglianico is the protagonist of the red wine area of the Sannio DOC, also in the province of Benevento. Aglianico is also the main grape variety for the production of red wines of Falerno Massico DOC, in the province of Caserta .
Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino
These two wines were able to get out among the whites wines from Campania, being able to get the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG) in 2003. The Greco di Tufo DOCG and Fiano of Avellino DOCG are in fact the most famous white wines of Campania, along with those from the excellent Falanghina grape. The Greco di Tufo takes its name from the namesake village Tufo, and is also produced as a sparkling wine. The wine is mainly produced with grape variety Greco and to a lesser extent by the variety Coda di Volpe and is it’s a fresh, dry and medium bodied wine. The Fiano of Avellino, named by the Romans Apianum is more fragrant in taste. Its ancient name is coming from the bees (api) which used to perch the grapes left hanging to dry to become raisins for the production of sweet wines. It’s an elegant and fragrant, complex and good structured wine, often available in cask-aged versions.
The other production areas
Among the other interesting wine areas of Campania there is Aversa, homeland of the famous Asprinio and the Falerno del Massico DOC wines. The area of Vesuvius is then characterized by Lacryma Christi wine, a dry wine available as white, red and rosé. The island of Ischia with its white wines from grapes Forastera and Biancolella and the reds from Piedirosso is also particularly interesting.
The regional cuisine of Campania
The Neapolitan pizza and the pastiera cake are certainly among the most famous dishes of the Campania cuisine. The pizza’s origins are uncertain, but it seems that initially it was a dish for the poor people, sold on the road, while the Neapolitan pastiera is a typical cake made traditionally during the Easter period with a pastry base filled with ricotta, candied fruit, eggs and other tasty ingredients .
The Campania cuisine has however a wide variety of typical food, among which the best known are the mozzarella di bufala dop, the tomatoes of San Marzano, the buffalo ricotta, the lemon of the Amalfi coast, the Gragnano pasta, the Sorrento walnuts, the broccoli and Limoncello. Famous also the typical fish and shellfish dishes, such as the marinated eel, the peppered mussels or spaghetti with fishfood. Among the meat recipes the paccheri with meat sauce and the minestra maritata. Dishes based on vegetables are the eggplant parmigiana, the caprese and the Sorrento dumplings.