The Authentic Irpinia Wine Club Vol. 5 Tasting Notes
The Authentic Irpinia Wine Club brought to you with Schneider's of Capitol Hill
This women winemaker led shipment is a terrific look at the various terroirs across Irpinia. You have 3 Taurasi wines and 3 amazing native white wines that are totally unique to Irpinia. We can’t wait to hear what you think!
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In-Home Wine Tastings and Cooking Courses
As 2020 continues to be a year of unpredictable surprises, we have started organizing online wine tastings with Irpinia winemakers and we’ve partnered with Michelin recognized restaurants in Irpinia to bring Italian cooking classes into your home. Interested? Send me a note and let’s get something set up!
Be sure to share your love of these wines, and tag us @theauthenticirpinia, in your photos on Instagram and Facebook!
Here’s a little more on the wines and wineries you’re meeting in this shipment…
“You can’t just look to the past, you have to move forward. You have to try new things to bring out the best in the wines.” - Sandro Lonardo
This small family winery was founded by the Lonardo family, residents of Taurasi since the 18th Century. They have been making wine in their family for generations, but it was in 1998 when they started their own label. The winery is exclusively made up of family members who do everything from the working in the vineyards to the bottling of their wines. They’ve focused on expressing their love for the grapes and the land they work in every bottle of wine. They’re known for producing top quality wines, but aren’t afraid to experiment with winemaking and grape growing techniques, all done with the utmost respect for winemaking traditions. They’re also one of the only wineries in the world to craft a Grecomusc’ wine from ancient Ravello vines in the area.
Taurasi: You’re instantly going to notice the gorgeous ruby red color of this wine in your glass followed by aromas of cherries and other ripe red fruits. You might even get a little tobacco and spice from this wine, a signature of the Taurasi growing region for which the wine is named. It’s intense, but friendly to drink and of course the signature Taurasi tannins will be on full display. Fermentation and maceration with skin contact was 15 days in steel tanks before the wines aged in large format oak barrels 24 months. This wine was not clarified or filtered before aging in the bottle all these years. Serve at room temperature or just below and enjoy with just about anything.
Grecomusc’: There are only three wineries in the world that I know of that craft wine from this ancient grape native to Irpinia, and Cantina Lonardo is one of them. Technically made from a grape called Rovello, but known as Grecomusc’ in the Italian dialect spoken in the community of Taurasi where it can be found, this white wine has been saved from extinction in large part by Cantina Lonardo and another Taurasi winery, Fratelli Addimando (coming to wine club in 2021!). It’s terrific in structure, a gorgeous honey yellow color in your glass, but by no means a sweet wine. This wine is bursting with acidity to balance out those honey notes and despite the extraordinary structure to this wine, it’s pretty easy porch drinking. I’m always left with the mental image of sitting on a dock on a bay, and you just want to relax and finish this bottle. A fresh young cheese is going to add a level of enjoyment you don’t want to miss out on, and I’m usually nibbling away like a little mouse when I open up one of these bottles. Serve with your favorite Italian cheeses chilled to about 55 degrees.
Brother and sister, Francesco and Chiara Romano, decided to remain in their beloved Irpinia and continue what their parents started: a new winery focused on the best of Irpinia. The winery was founded in 2006 by their father, Franco, and mother, Fiorenza, and is the only winery in San Mango sul Calore, a town included in the DOCG Taurasi area. This area was completely devastated by a 1980 earthquake and admirably rebuilt, leading to the winery name "Antico Castello" in memory of a feudal castle in the area before the earthquake. The family is dedicated to growing only the highest quality grapes to produce wines that are some of the best representation of Irpinian traditions.
Taurasi: This Taurasi is made 100% from Aglianico grapes grown in San Agata in clay soil at 450 meters above seal level. These grapes were harvested by hand in the last days of October during a tough year for winemakers (more below). Fermentation and maceration took place during a 30 day period at controlled temperatures and were then aged 24 months aging in 2500 L oak casks. Finally, this wine rested in bottle for 4 years before being put on the market. You’ll instantly notice the ruby red color and note intense scents of red fruits and cinnamon spice. This wine is enveloping and velvety to taste, but at the same time dry and warm, soft and tannic. It expresses the power of its structure with a great equilibrium. Serve just below room temperature. Pair with steak or Italian cheeses.
2014 Mida Greco: This unique white wine was a bit of an experiment for Chiara and Francesco as they attempted to craft a wine from what was a disastrous winemaking year for most wineries in Irpinia and beyond, the 2014 vintage. This brother and sister put their instincts to the test to craft what is now one of my favorite white wines from 100% Greco grapes grown in a clay soil 400 meters above sea level. Harvested by hand in early October, these grapes then went through fermentation and maceration for 7 days. The wine was then aged in the steel tanks for 12 months in contact with the grape skins. This Mida then rested in bottle for 3 years before arriving on the market. You’ll instantly see a brilliant gold yellow color in the glass and note the intense and floral scent of citrus and green apple. This wine is fresh, sapid, well structured and persistent to taste. Serve around 55 degrees all on it’s own or amazing with oysters, young cheeses, or a plate of tomato based pasta.
Stefania and her husband, Erminio, have started a new tradition of winemaking in their family that relies on the time honored learnings of Irpinia. They grow their Aglianico grapes in Paternopoli, one of the best locations for the production of Taurasi wines. Their award winning “Fren” Taurasi is grown on vines dating back 70 years, which they harvest by hand selecting only the best grapes grown throughout the year. Stay tuned for more from this winery in 2021!
2015 Taurasi: This Taurasi is elegant and fun just like the woman who leads the winery, there’s just no other way to describe it. You want to just dive into the glass and really soak in the huge tannins balanced with just the right acidity to produce a wine that is beyond drinkable. You’re also going to note a longevity that seems like the delicious taste of the wine will last for days in your mouth and even longer in your memory. Only 4000 bottles were made, and I’m thrilled to have them for you in the club. This wine is perfect with a steak and should be served at room temperature or just below. Not ready to drink it yet? This wine can easily age for another 10 years and will likely be amazing another 20 years from now as well.
I don’t usually put much behind “points” and awards, but it’s worth mentioning this wine was awarded 95 points from Robert Parker and 93 points from James Suckling.
Raffaele Troisi is continuing the generations of winemaking traditions that have existed in his family for centuries. Raffaele’s grandfather passed away young, at which point his grandmother took over all things grapes and vineyard, becoming a local legend of winemaking knowledge and expertise. It was 1984 when Raffaele’s father produced their first bottle of wine under an official label, and the rest is history. Raffaele continues the traditions of winemaking greatness that have defined his family’s traditions and have made their Coda di Volpe and other varieties famous.
Coda di Volpe: “Coda di Volpe doesn’t permit errors. It’s much more delicate than Fiano and Greco. Those grapes forgive...but not Coda di Volpe.” - Raffaele
This Coda di Volpe is made from grapes grown on vines 15-20 years in age, some of them even older. On the nose, you’ll instantly notice the intense minerality balanced with hints of camomile flower. This wine is structured and clean and when you take your first sip, you’ll swear this wine is doing a two-step in your mouth. Bouncing around leaving flavors of apple and honey that lasts and lasts. 2018 was a hot year, and Raffaele picked these grapes later than normal for his harvest. You’re going to love this wine, but if you don’t finish it right away, an opened bottle will be delicious for at least 3-5 days if stored in a cool dry place. Drink this with your favorite blue cheese, or if that’s not your thing, go with a young creamy cheese.