Posted by: tomciocco | September 2, 2012

THE (ALMOST) FORGOTTEN VINES OF THE ROMAN PLAYGROUND

The contemporary Italian region of Campania, especially its long, rocky, and spectacularly beautiful coast, is lined with sunny seaview towns stacked with vacation hotels, restaurants, and shops of every stripe. How little has changed in 2,000 years.

This very same coast – and in many cases the very same towns – were host to rich Romans Summering at the beach or, for those who prefered the quieter cool of forested mountain lakes and streams, kept lavish villas in the steeply hilly areas north of Naples. So whether the villas attracted the vineyards to these remote regions, or the other way around, these pre-Apennine hills were then, and are now a nursery for scores of wine grape varieties, many of which have (barely) survived to this day.

This wine is just one (very good) example of Campania’s extraordinarily rich viticultural patrimony. Made from roughly equal parts of  (get ready) Pallagrello Nero, Casavecchia, Pizzutella, and a very old and peculiar strain of the Mezzogiorno’s great Aglianico. If this particular wines is any sort of example, it’s very clear that these grapes have been bathing and playing backgammon together for millennia.

I matched this very smooth but highly faceted, and sultry wine with a decidedly Campanian menu of spaghetti with olive paste pounded with dried herbs, and braciole di manzo ripiene al sugo di pomodoro e vino rosso (beef braciole stuffed with raisins, pine nuts, hard boiled egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, etc. braised in a dark tomato sauce) with some rapini saltati (sauteed broccoli rabe) on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vestini Campagnano “Kajanero” Terre del Volturno IGT 2010

Dark, sultry, nearly opaque purple/garnet color. Deep and sweet scents of potpourri, black pepper, plum butter, blackberry, cardamom, sea spray, and coal smoke. The wine is again deep and “sweet” on the palate with a fine velvety, pulpy texture, perfectly balanced and refined acidity, and a soft and sexy but still firm tannic structure that frames rich flavors of raspberry, boysenberry, black currants, and black walnuts. Very long and warm dried cranberry finish. A very evocative wine.

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