CAMPANIA STORIES – A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER CAPTIVATING WINES AND UNIQUE TERRITORIES – Filippo Magnani

Campi Flegrei – how fire and sea shape the wines

It is not a coincidence that the ancient Romans identified a desertic area Northwest of Naples, Italy as “Hell’s Door” in the vicinity of the active volcano Vesuvio. The lunar region of Campi Flegrei is a breath-
taking place also literally because of the sulfur in the air.

This volcanic region dates back 15,000 years and it is made up of active volcanos, and thermal water springs – where the grey of the local volcanic rocks dominates.

For centuries this has been the main backdrop of legends, like the meeting of Aenea with his father; it was also described as one of the most prodigious places in the world by Goethe. He was not wrong, with its enchanting and scary landscape, Campi Flegrei overlooks the bay of Naples, the island
of Procida, the Cultural Capital and the island of Ischia, famous for its warm water springs.

Fire, water, land and air: these are the main elements of Campi Flegrei – translated as burning fields; a region that is living a renaissance lately, with special thanks to the strong network of the local consortium, producers and tourists taking key roles. July and August 2022, Campi Flegrei registered over 120,000 visitors and an increase of 15% of visitors to the area, producing an income in two months of over 1 million euros.

Campi Flegrei, with its wild beauty, was also the backdrop of the 2022 Campania Stories – Special Edition. This is a yearly wine event for press and trade professionals; an unmissable occasion to taste special vintages, and wines and meet the producers. Diana Cataldo and Massimo Iannaccone, ideators and directors of Campania Stories, did their very best with this event, not only by arranging a comprehensive wine tasting but also, with visits and tours to the producers.

The hosting region of this press trip, Campi Flegrei, is well known for the white grape varietal Falanghina. Campi Flegrei has enjoyed the DOC appellation with the Falanghina grape since 1994, but also, with the red grape varietal Piedirosso or Per’e Palummo. While Falanghina is known for being grown almost only in the Sannio region, needless to say, the grapes from Campi Flegrei are a different clone, a thinned bunch, lighter and with a distinguish saltiness.

The wineries are concentrated in 7 towns, including Naples, which is why, sometimes for this appellation we might talk of “Metropolitan Vineyards”, which are small estates nestled among tall buildings, but still enjoying the sea breeze from the Bay of Naples. Most of them have few pre-phylloxera plants, as the volcanic, powdery soil has preserved the European roots throughout the years.

A common thought is that Falanghina is an easy wine to drink and is to be consumed within a year of harvest, but there was a happy discovery during the blind wine tasting at Campania Stories – we tasted a 10-year-old Falanghina – the colour was deeply darker, the typical saltiness of Campi Flegrei area showed an incomparable crispness of this white.

La Sibilla is one of the milestone wineries of the area, which is based in Bacoli, North of Naples. The Di Meo family has run the wine business for over five generations on an estate of 10 ha. A section of the vineyards grows in an archaeological area called Villa di Cesare. There are a few plants in their vineyards that date back to more than a century, and are still on the European roots, protected by the friable grey volcanic soil. But the gem of La Sibilla is the aging cellar, an ancient tank of tuff where the Romans
collected rainwater. A naturally cool, dark place, where old single vineyard wines from Falanghina and Piedirosso keep aging. The classic Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2021 (we tasted) was straw yellow, with a herbal bouquet recalling all the herbs growing wild in the vineyards, from sage to
mint, with a touch of lemon zest. On the palate, the wine showed agility, freshness and a long-lasting saltiness – this definitely makes Falanghina a good food wine. A lovely pairing to buffalo milk mozzarella.

Another interesting producer is Agnanum, a smaller producer, run by the Moccia’s family. Their vineyards are next to the Astroni crater, which was previously a hunting reserve of the Borbons. This vineyard tried to survive the advance of concrete which is hidden by buildings and was also challenged by hungry foxes that in harvest time are tempted by the sweet juiciness of Falanghina grapes. The Moccia’s restate is in Agnano, next to a motorway- this is one of the most astonishing places in Naples: in the downtown of such a big city, the vineyard of Piedirosso is something so unexpected! So, while Raffaele Moccia is well known for being one of the authors of the Piedirosso revival, the tasting of Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2012 was not disappointing. A 10-year-old Falanghina is a big challenge, with its deep golden brilliant colour and its intense bouquet of ripe yellow fruit but still keeping its minerality (recalling wet sand and seashells}. On the mouth, the roundness and greasy taste is well balanced by the refreshing saltiness that still keeps the wine incredibly alive. A good way to enjoy the breathtaking view of the islands in the bay.

The press tour of Campania continued with a visit to Sannio, on the northern edge of the region. A historical place, where Roman ruins are side by side to modern buildings, where a stunning aqueduct, a masterpiece of architecture, stands in the middle of the plain around Benevento.
Through the years, Benevento has arisen in popularity because of the magic: legends say that it was the homeland of witches who used to reunite around the walnut trees, grown in Sannio. It’s not a coincidence,
that one of the worldwide most famous liqueurs, from this place, is named Strega – it means “witch” in Italian and whose recipe is still a secret.

Later, the big plain between Matese and Taburno mountain was mostly converted to vine and olive growing. These crops have represented the main income of the area for years, especially in the 20th century, when Sannio was sadly considered the tank of bulk wine from the white grape Falanghina, but also, from other grapes such as Barbera, Gglianico, and Piedirosso..

The average style of Falanghina is aromatic, light-bodied, and to be easily drunk in a year. Nowadays, the big surprise is a number of different styles of Falanghina have emerged, from an easy-drinking wine to a more complex wine. You would never have said it before, but this wine is now suitable for long aging. This all came out from a comprehensive tasting of local wines. One of the main producers of the area is Terre Stregate, a historic winery, run by the Iacobucci, family, who for years, have sold their grapes to other producers, and in the nineties started to invest on their own. The new
generation of the family, Filomena and Carlo, have rejuvenated the brand image, the wine line and labels, keeping the high standard of quality in the winemaking process.

Their wine, Svelato, is one of the best-known Falanghinas in Italy, rewarded by several accolades. Svelato Falanghina del Sannio 2021 is a bright straw yellow wine, with a delicate fruity bouquet, that
recalls ripe yellow fruits with a touch of exotic ones, well blended with a herbal finish. The sip is nicely refreshing, mouth-watering, warm but with a long finish. A full-bodied wine, unexpected from a grape that people considered for years a jug wine.

The estate has over 20ha and includes Falanghina and Aglianico, as well as Barbera, Piedirosso, and some olive trees for olive oil. The most interesting red was the Aglianico del Sannio DOC Manent 2019, a deep red, as expected from any Aglianico, which stands out for fruitiness and cleanness. The wine has been aged for almost a year in both steel and oak, which gives it a smoothness and spiciness, a well-balanced wine, good to drink now or to keep for some years.

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September is “California Wine Month” – here’s how you can celebrate!

September is “California Wine Month” this is the time to celebrate the annual harvest and raise a glass to their vibrant wine community.

California’s wine industry has played a vital role in the state’s culture and economy for over 250 years. California makes up 81% of wine production in the United States and 95% of exports. Within the state’s 147 distinct winegrowing regions are 621,000 acres of vineyards, 4,800 bonded wineries and nearly 6,000 winegrowers.

Here are three exciting ways to celebrate California Wine Month

  1. Participate in Events and Experiences at California Wineries

Over 24 million people from around the globe visit the California winegrowing regions each year.  Visit wineries across the state 40+ harvest-themed events, activities and experiences — and more will continue to be added throughout September. These include behind-the-scenes vineyard and crush pad tours, grape-stomping competitions, wine and food festivals, hands-on harvest experiences, charity wine auctions and more.

“California’s diverse and expansive wine country is one of its top tourism draws,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California president and CEO. “From high-end pairings and legendary wineries to sustainable vineyards and neighborly barn tastings, there’s an experience — and a wine — for everyone to enjoy.”

  1. Pair Iconic California Recipes with California Wine

It’s no coincidence that California wine pairs perfectly with the state’s farm-fresh produce and trend-setting cuisine. To help consumers experience this delicious culinary connection at home, Discover California Wines has partnered with California Grown and Visit California to create the free “Iconic California Dishes to Celebrate California Wine Month” e-book. The book features recipes for dishes that evoke the state’s sunny and relaxed vibe — all paired with California wine and creative, wine-based cocktails. Bring harvest home with recipes including Avocado Salad with Hidden Valley Ranch-Style Dressing, Wine Country Chicken Salad and the California 75, a classic wine-based lemon cocktail with a literal and figurative twist.

“We say what grows together goes together,” said Cher Watte Angulo, executive director of California Grown. “Since California provides over 50% of the nation’s produce and over 80% of the wine, it makes sense that people celebrate with both a sip and a bite of the Golden State.”

  1. Discover and Enjoy California Wine

Whether visiting wineries in person or online, there’s no better time than California Wine Month to pick up a few bottles of wine to share with friends and family. It’s also easy to find a great selection of California wine at your local grocery store or wine shop.

For the latest details on offerings, visit the Discover California Wines website.

#californiawinemonth #californiawines #harvest #winecountry #napavalley #winelovers #winetourism #winenews #wine @cagrownofficial @napavintners @sonomavalleywine @sierravintners @temeculawines @pasowine @maderawinetrail @winesofscm @mendowine @livermorevalleywinecountry @santabarbarawinecountry @lodi_wine

 

 

Climate change forces an early start to Champagne Harvest

Picking officially commenced in Champagne last Saturday with start dates spread between August 20 and September 6th, depending on the location of the vineyards in the 34,000-hectare region.

The timing of the harvesting is guided by the Réseau Matu, which is a network of hundreds of representative vineyard plots spread across the appellation.

The harvest has begun far earlier in the season than normal.  This is a result of the extreme heat seen across Europe this summer. August harvests used to be extremely rare, they are now becoming common due to climate change. This warming weather may start forcing changes to how the famous sparkling wine is produced.

These high temperatures and the worst drought on record have also caused massive wildfires and led to restrictions on water usage across France, but they also boosted grape maturity.

The pickers are paid on what they pick and are rushing around in temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) as they have to pick the grapes before they become over-ripe and supercharged with sugar.

“I think we’re at the turning point,” said Charles Philipponnat, President of Philipponnat Champagne, “So far, global warming has helped: harvest in good weather conditions without rain, without too much cold, with ripeness and little rot.”

Producers across France are expecting this year’s harvest to yield a good quality vintage when it makes its way to market, a relief after frost and mildew fungus attacks in 2021, something dry and hot weather helped prevent this year.

“Following the remarkable rebound of Champagne shipments in 2021, including record shipments to the United States, Champagne is expecting an excellent yield in 2022,” said Jennifer Hall, director of the Champagne Bureau, USA.

Champagne shipments in the first half of 2022 were close to 130 million bottles globally, representing an increase of 13.8 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

#champagne #champagneregion #champagneharvest #champagneharvest2022 #harvest #Reims #champagnelover #champagnelife #epernay #champagnetourism #wine #winelovers #winenews #winetrends #climatechange

Discovering the Wine Secrets of Southeastern Sicily – Filippo Magnani

There are two things you can be sure of when taking a food and wine itinerary in Sicily: you will always learn something new, and you will always leave a piece of your heart there when you leave. From the 13th to the 15th of July a well-organized press tour by Assovini Sicilia, led a handful of international journalists in three intense days to discover the Southeastern part of Sicily.  First in the area around the village of Noto from the Baroque splendors, to the promised land of Nero d’Avola; and then in the territory of Vittoria, the area of the now unique Sicilian DOCG, with the homonymous Cerasuolo name. Many estates were visited, dozens of wines were tasted together with producers, and a combination of cuisine specialties of the island were interpreted by local cooks or starred chefs. A continuous temptation, and indeed, an inexhaustible discovery.

Sicily’s Southeast, the heart of the island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea
Sicily is in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and the largest under vine area of Italy. An area that counts a multitude of appellations that are slowly becoming more and more famous thanks to the success of productions able to clearly express the combination of Sicilian microclimates. From the vineyards on the island of Pantelleria to the extreme fields on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily is an island of unparalleled beauty and diversity. Southeast Sicily certainly embodies the essence of Sicily and embraces some of the most important wine areas among the dense web of appellations of the island. Noto DOC was created in 1978 to protect the local historical passito of Moscato. Recently the regulation has been expanded to include red wines based on Nero d’Avola, which today covers up to 84% of the vineyards. The area has been under vines for thousands of years. It is a sun-kissed, warm territory but it benefits from the mitigating effect of the coastal proximity. From these hills the view of the island is open, the sea breeze envelops the atmosphere, and the lively green of the vineyards is matched with the dark soil. Surrounded by beautifully restored ocher-colored farms. The neat geometry of the vine rows is organized by dry stone walls, sometimes alternated with monumental plants of prickly pears, and finally some small, sparse patches of trees that almost seem to wonder what they are doing there…

The scenario around the wine district of Vittoria is different. The territories of production include the municipalities of Ragusa, Vittoria, Comiso, Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Santa Croce Camerina, Niscemi, Gela, Caltagirone, Licodia Eubea, Riesi, Butera, Mazzarino and Mazzarrone (five in the Ragusa province, two in the Caltanissetta province and two in the Catania province). The area is delimited to the north by the Erei mountains and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. The inland is occupied by the majestic Iblei mountains from which many waterways descend. The streams have dug through the land and shaped valleys on which the vineyards climb, and through the thermal breezes coming from the coast, which can deeply affect the climate, creating abnormal temperature excursions close to twenty degrees. On Vittoria’s hills, the soils are differentiated by Millennial stormwater runoff, producers are able to use this to produce red wines characterized by structure and sapidity versus tremendously drinkable wines of immediacy of fruit. To visit the vineyard estates, it is necessary to go down into these valleys completely submerged by cultivations.

The possibilities are endless. The variability of climatic conditions with the multiplicity and succession of the soil (clay, sandy-loamy, limestone soils) allow producers to interpret their personal and intimate Sicily in their bottles of wines. The finesse of the Cerasuolo by Vittoria Docg is expressed in blends composed of the only two native vines allowed by the disciplinary: Nero d’Avola and Frappato, in 50 to 70% and 30 to 50% respectively. The two contrasting varieties prove to be extremely complementary. The fragrance of Frappato goes perfectly with the more meditative aspect of Nero d’Avola, creating unique wines. These styles of wines are neither light nor heavy, they go beyond any concept of the seasonality of wines. The depth and structure of Nero d’Avola are lightened and harmonized by the fresher aromas and elegance of the fantastic Frappato. Wine must speak for the territory as much as it can give a little hint of the soul of its inhabitants. Vittoria’s wines are bright and exuberant, just like the people there.

Land of tales with a wide array of beautiful wine estates to visit
South-East Sicily is one of the most coveted wine destinations for wine lovers and wine connoisseurs. Wine tourism has become a key factor for territorial promotion. There is an increasing number of tourists who visit these lands just to discover the wine traditions. While visitors discover the mosaic of small and large wineries hidden in every corner of those lands, the protagonists of the Sicilian wine scene have understood the infinite potential of their land and they are moving towards the future, offering more impeccable travel proposals, starting from unique experiences in the cellar, through food delicatesse, to beautiful retreats. The “blend” of ancient traditions and modern cultivation practices with market strategies and investments for hospitality and tourism has made Sicily one of the most interesting wine destinations in Italy. The pulsating center of the area is Syracuse. The City of Syracuse combines works of the Greco-Roman era, spectacular squares, artisan boutiques, and of course the breathtaking shores and a crystal-clear sea. To the Southwest lies Val di Noto. The rolling hills or the valley frame a few beautiful late-baroque towns such as Noto, Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. Perfect places to enjoy gastronomic delights in small Osterie, Taverns, or Michelin-starred restaurants, surrounded by works of art and monuments that exude the history of man. The rest of the land is wild with luscious green vineyards, rocky ravines and prehistoric tombs, a thread woven between nature and man that run from the hills to an uncontaminated rugged coastline. A wide array of properties with great wine production and hospitality proposals for wine enthusiasts and wine professionals. Here are the wineries we visited during the magnificent tour.

Assovini
Assovini was founded in 1998 and it is the organization that most supported and carried out the territorial development project in the last 25 years for wine production and wine tourism. Today, along with 90 producers and nearly 900 labels produced, they are aiming to bring the fantastic value of Sicilian wines worldwide. In this direction Assovini in 2004 created the event Sicilia en premieur: A yearly itinerant event where the producers and the members of Assovini, lead a selected international press through tastings, tours, masterclasses, and conventions.

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Delaire Graff Estate, South Africa – Part ll Wine Tasting

History
The estate was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel. Simon brought with him a sound knowledge of viticulture. In 1982 John Platter (wine writer) purchased the estate which was then known as Avontuur. Looking at the magnificent view, John decided to rename the wine farm Delaire Estate, meaning “From the Sky”. Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds International acquired the estate in 2003 and vowed to transform it into South Africa’s most desirable art, hospitality and wine destination. In just three years the estate was rated one of the top ten wine producers in South Africa.

The Estate
The estate currently owns 20 hectares of vineyards which are located on the slopes of Botmaskop Mountain. The vines benefit from a north-facing aspect as well as high-altitude and maritime influences. Winemaker Morné Vrey produces excellent red blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with impressive single block Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, a 100% Cabernet Franc rosé, and some supremely elegant vintages.

It is interesting to note that Delaire Graff Estate wines rank among the most prestigious in the Southern Hemisphere, where their cutting-edge 450-ton gravity-fed Estate winery is a celebration of both old and new.

After a lengthy tour of the “Owner’s Villa” we headed to the main building walking through breathtaking landscaped gardens, stunning sculptures, and art.  It’s interesting to note that the gardens have over 350 indigenous plants, exotic plants and flowers.

Once inside I had to ask …. for a brief visit to the Graff Diamonds store as it begs for further investigation. Once inside (no photos allowed) it was certainly the ultimate experience — so many enticing pieces and iconic stones were on display. I felt like I was inside a beautifully designed jewelry box.

After a twenty-minute conversation with the Assistant Manager on Graff Diamond’s history, we headed off to the Delaire Graff Tasting Room.

On route, we came across Laurence Graff’s recent acquisition the original of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’, which is currently displayed at the entrance of the winery. This is said to be one of the most recognizable paintings in the world.

Delaire Graff Tasting Room
The Tasting Room offers incredible mountain and vineyard views. The sommeliers were quite knowledgeable on South African wines, and their service was quite intuitive – this is certainly hospitality at its best!

Delaire Graff Estate Wines Tasted

Delaire Graff Estate ‘Sunrise’ Brut MCC 

The Backstory
This wine was named after the magnificent 118.08 carat “Delaire Sunrise Diamond” the largest square emerald cut fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world.

Alcohol: 12.5%
Method: Traditional Method
Dosage: Brut
Blend: 58% Chenin Blanc, 34% Chardonnay & 8% Cabernet Franc

Tasting Notes
Light yellow gold in colour; a stream of fine and persistent bubbles; with green apple and melon dominating the nose; the palate shows finesse and intensity, some citrus flavours [lemon and grapefruit] along with toasty brioche; zesty and fresh – elegantly balanced; lovely long yeasty citrus finish.

The Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut MCC spoils the eye with its radiant, golden colour and unquestionably lives up to its name!
92/100

2022 Delaire Graff Estate Rose Cabernet Franc

The Backstory
This unique Rosé is handpicked and gently pressed to obtain the perfect, subtle salmon pink hue.  This wine is also a Delaire Graff Estate employee favorite.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc

Tasting Notes
Medium-intensity salmon in color; has aromas of strawberry, red plum, dark berries with a hint of candy floss; a creamy and structured palate with layered flavours of fresh strawberry, red berries, cassis, and a seductive spicy finish.
92/100

2021 Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay (Estate)

Backstory
Winemaker Morné Vrey is committed to meticulous vineyard management.  The grapes are handpicked, whole bunch pressed, fermented, and matured in small French oak barrels for 10 months.

Alcohol: 13.6%
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Tasting Notes
The wine is a buttery yellow hue; complex aromas of citrus, peaches, concomitant spice, vanilla and salted butter; The palate repeats the aromas with to a long lingering finish.
94/100

2019 Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve Merlot

Backstory
These wines come from the oldest vineyards on the Estate.  These wines are a raconteur weaving the tale of the property’s humble beginnings. Expressions of the site’s splendor, with its rich earthiness and bountiful fruit. These Single Vineyard wines are also handpicked and are matured in 80% new French oak for 16 months.  Vinification – extensive sorting of the grapes formed part of the quality management process. The grapes were de-stemmed only, not crushed, to ensure gentle extraction of fruit flavours.

Alcohol: 14.5 %
Varietal: 100% Merlot

Tasting Notes:
Firm and well balanced, this Merlot is characterized by spice, dark plum and dark red berry flavours and aromas whilst silky, ripe tannins with a long and lingering finish; a luxurious elegant wine.
93/100

Conclusion
What an extraordinary experience to sip Delaire Graff terroir-specific award-winning wines with these stunning views of the Winelands and being surrounded by Laurence Graff’s personal art collection.

From Laurence Graff’s own words

“Delaire means ‘from the sky’, and the wines we craft here are an invitation to savour this unique piece of heaven and earth in Stellenbosch.”
Laurence Graff

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