There is too much “fear” to mention money when it comes to wine, as it could somehow dirty a noble image. That’s wrong: it is good to remember, once again, that the wine producer takes on important risks that must be taken into account. That’s why I write about “the courage to mature” a wine even when, by law, it could be released onto the market right away. In this case, the producer does not have an “immediate” and direct return on investments; moreover, he/she assumes a risk betting on future and, even worst, risking to lose anything (think of a fire). Even worst when it comes to white wines because they still miss the culture which allows to mature them.
In Campania there are excellent and notorious examples of native white grape varieties that have given remarkable evidence of aging very well like Fiano or even Greco, among the few native Italian ones at this high level of quality. But to mature them before releasing them onto market both courage and territorial vision are required.
Luckily there are many illuminated producers nowadays, among those I have to mention 2 wineries: Di Meo and Tenuta Cavalier Pepe in Irpinia, notorious production area in inland Campania (southern Italy).
The vision of the Di Meo brothers (Roberto and Generoso) goes beyond the production of the wine production itself with a special focus on art, a cellar in a former hunting estate that takes you back in time as well as a special wine line called “Tempo (Time)”, and given the current vintages you’ll easily get why; here they are:
Vittorio (Greco di Tufo) 2007
From grapes coming from the cru Montefusco, the wine is named after the father of the brothers Roberto, Generoso and Erminia. Maceration on the skins, refining for at least 36 months between in stainless steel tanks and bottle.
Compared to its “colleagues” produced from Fiano grapes, it offers a more evident oxidative character with nutty flavors as well as a light toasted note, aromas of candied citrus and touch of preserved peach. Velvety texture thanks to a light maceration and a good acidity that, as for its nature, Greco preserves with time.
Erminia Di Meo (Fiano di Avellino) 2003
A homage to the sister who died prematurely. It matures in steel for 8/10 years and then refines in bottle for 3/5 years.
A surprising wine with a fine bouquet that focuses on apple peel, infused herbs, potpourri, bergamot jam and recalls kerosene on the final. Mature but still lively somehow with a slightly bitter touch that revitalizes a wine of this age.
Colle dei Cerri (Fiano di Avellino) 2007
A Fiano produced by grapes coming from the cru Salza Irpina. Also for this one there a short maceration on the skins, it ferments and ages in French oak barrique before aging in bottle for 3/5 years.
It offers a stratification of scents that range from white pepper and forest floor, from stone fruit to woody notes. Still toasted on the final. Paradoxically more mature than the previous one given the aging in wood.
I have already written about Tenuta Cavalier Pepe winery here but I have recently opened an excellent “Brancato” (Fiano di Avellino) 2011. The grapes come from an altitude of 700 m a.s.l., the wine matures in wood and ages in bottle at least 6 months (but generally much more than that). A surprising shape: it offers a great balance between maturity and lively character, roundness and personality. A further demonstration of the potential for ageing of this wonderful white grape from south of Italy.