Latitudes: Campania, Italy
This Italian wine region is home to ancient grape history
The top wines of Campania are mostly grown in the hilly province of Avellino, close to the town of Avellino. The best whites are the ageworthy, honeyed, nutty DOCG Fiano di Avellino and the fresh, complex DOCG Greco di Tufo. The top red is the intense, long-lasting DOCG Taurasi, made mostly from aglianico. The latest DOCG is Aglianico del Taburno, also anchored around aglianico.
Even more famous, perhaps, are the DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio (Tears of Christ) red (made from piedirosso) and white (made from coda di volpe del Vesuvio) wines, produced from the volcanic soils on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
Until 1990, there was only one commercial winery in Avellino: the impressive Mastroberardino. It still makes the most-reputed wines, although there are now hundreds of producers in Campania.
Native Grapes in Campania
The wine history of this hilly region, the “shin” of Italy’s boot, goes back at least 3,000 years. Campania has several native grapes of historical significance, including fiano, known to the Romans as vitis apiana; greco, introduced by the Greeks; coda di volpe (“Tail of the Fox”), named by Pliny the Elder for the shape of its cluster; and, last but not least, piedirosso (“Red Foot”), also called per' e palummo (“Dove’s Foot”), so named because of its red stems at full ripeness, similar to the red feet of the local doves or pigeons.
Pliny, who died during the eruption of Vesuvius of 79 AD, must have loved his wines. He also wrote of Falernian wines, which were likely made from aglianico, and are reflected in the current DOC Falerno del Massico. Aglianico is possibly the oldest cultivated grape variety in Italy; its name stems from the word "Hellenic," meaning it arrived around 750 BC, courtesy of the Greeks.
Campania Facts and Figures
Latitude of Campania
40° 54' North (Avellino)
Size of Vineyards in Campania
Wine Styles in Campania
Food-friendly whites and reds, the most famous being the long-aging Taurasi DOCG reds made from aglianico.
Climate in Campania
There are plenty of hilly vineyard areas with some high-altitude slopes, with mainly volcanic and lime/clay soils. Campania has a mild, Mediterranean climate, with a long growing season and diurnal temperature variations from mountain breezes.
Appellations in Campania
In the province of Avellino, minimum 85 percent aglianico; long-lasting, tannic reds with good acidity.
DOCG Fiano di Avellino
Minimum 85 percent fiano, up to 15 percent (combined) greco, coda di volpe and trebbiano permitted.
DOCG Greco di Tufo
Hilly area north of Avellino, volcanic ash and calcareous tufa soils, minimum 85 percent greco, up to 15 percent fiano.
DOCG Aglianico del Taburno
Minimum 85 percent aglianico, just achieved DOCG this year.
There are many, the most famous being Vesuvio, where Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio is made. Others include Aversa, Campi di Flegrei, Capri, Castel San Lorenzo, Cilento, Costa d'Amalfi, Falerno del Massico, Galluccio, Guardia Sanframondi/Guardiolo, Irpinia, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, and Solopaca.
Top Wine Producers in Campania
Campania's Top Vintages
1999, 2003, 2004 for reds; 2010, 2007, 2006 for whites
Wine Production in Campania
1.8 million hectolitres
How to Get to Campania
Fly to Naples (try KLM, Delta, Alitalia, Lufthansa or Air Canada), then drive about 60 kilometres east, passing Mount Vesuvius, to Avellino, at the heart of Campania.