It is weird to accept that one of the wine areas with most rooted traditions in the world, not only in terms of production capacity but even in terms of commercialization, is nowadays in definition. Reading the classics books and looking at some relevant frescos it is easy to get that Greeks brought here in Campania the wine culture while the Romans created a big business around Pompeii. Nevertheless it is only thanks to the current Consorzio led since 3 years by the dynamic and passionate Ciro Giordano, modest enough to carry a hard team job, that Vesuvio wine area is going to re-organize itself starting right from the Disciplinare (local regulation) which used to classify Coda di Volpe as the main white grape of the DOC wines of Vesuvio, considering Caprettone as just a local name for it, while Caprettone is another variety, local key player of the white wines of the area.
This new address deserved a relaunch, so, from the 14th to the 17th of Sept, the Consorzio has organized a very useful educational tour. A perfect occasion to clarify the main characters and discover the real soul of this super charming wine zone which does not need any further presentation and which benefits from having already a strong brand as “Vesuvio” is one of the most famous “wine volcanos” in the world as well as the mystery of a legend (Lacryma Christi, see ahead) which seriously contribute in supporting the communication of the wine and its territory.
So, please find here the main features:
Vesuvio wine area is in the middle of the production area of Napoli, right between Campi Flegrei (north) and Sorrento (south).
The numerous eruptions of Vesuvio have created a complex stratification which makes this area one of the richest ones in minerals worldwide and specifically rich in potassium which fosters the sugar concentration (and here is the sweet taste of the local cherry-tomatoes, Piennolo, and the local apricots).
The soils are mainly made of dark volcanic sand. Such a composition allows to avoid the grafting: 90% of the local vines are ungrafted and spread through the method called “calatura” (lowered): a branch is ‘lowered’ inside the soil and pulled out where needed to grow a new plant.
The vineyards develop all around the complex Somma-Vesuvio with different exposures and altitudes (from 50 up to 400 m a.s.l.) as well as a different level of maritime influence basing on their distance from the close Tyrrhenian sea. Moreover, even if it is common to only read “Vesuvio”, actually it is a complex called Somma-Vesuvio with 2 mountains and so 2 different characters: the Somma side is more humid with a lusher vegetation similar to the close Apennines, Vesuvio side is more sunny with the typical vegetation of the Mediterranean areas.
(New) Disciplinare and typologies
The legend: “a piece of Paradise fell down in the Gulf of Napoli when Lucifer got expelled. Crist cried for the loss of his best angel and his tears touched Vesuvio area where the vines grew up. This is wine is called Lacryma Christi”.
The new disciplinare, from 2017, have made clear the grape varieties as already mentioned; the wine typology are now 25 and based on blends included the one of Lacryma Christi category. The big news is the presence of single grape variety wines.
The main grapes of the area are:
– Piedirosso: key player of red and rosè DOC wines, often blended with Aglianico thanks to its lighter and fruiter character (compared to the powerful Aglianico).
– Caprettone: the key player of the most of DOC whites of Vesuvio, for a long time confused with Coda di Volpe, often blended with Falanghina and/or Coda di Volpe itself
– Catalanesca: another white variety that, along with Caprettone, is now available almost exclusively here and which has its own appellation since 2011. In the past it was mainly exploited as table grape thanks to its bunches size and its thick skin (which allows the preservation): crucial features in poor periods when the wine was a luxury product.
Stay tuned for my top list of red, rosè, white, sparkling and single-grapes wines.