Campania is a wonderful wine region in southern Italy. It has an old wine tradition. It was one of the most famous wine regions of the Romans.
The vineyards in Campania are mostly inland, not directly along the coast. The soils are influenced by volcanism.
It were the Greeks who introduced Vitis Vinifera in Campania. Grapes such as Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Falanghina have all Greek origins. But, it were the Romans who introduced the wines from Campania everywhere in the world.
Naples is the capital city of the Campania region. It is Italy’s third largest city. I know “Napule” quite well. I have wonderful memories of Naples. In 2003 I’ve stayed a month in this unique city to learn the Italian language. It was great fun spending the Summer there!
Winery Villa Matilde
The wine tasting in Campania was in the winery Villa Matilde in Cellole in the province Caserta close to Benevento. 80 km drive from Naples.
The family Avellone is the owner of Villa Matilde. It is a three generation family wine business.In the sixties Francesco Paolo Avellone started with re-planting of old vines. He had a passion for ancient historical wines. With his new wine projects he gained support from local farmers and friends.
The vineyards of Villa Matilde are in the limestone massif Mount Massico, the Roccamonfina volcano. Today daughter Maria Ida and son Salvatore are responsible for the production of their wines.
In the wine shop we had a lovely wine tasting. We didn’t visit the vineyards. But it was a nice experience. Maria is really a wonderful host!
The wines in Campania are produced by Italian autochtone – unique grape varieties, such as Falanghina, Aglianico, Piedirosso, Fiano and Greco. The Agliano grape is cultivated everywhere in Campania. Aglianico is one of the great grapes of Italy. The wines made from Agliano are full bodied. It is worth a try!
The grape variety Falanghina is an important white grape in Falerna del Massico. It is born from ancient vines by the Greeks about 3000 years ago.Falerno del Massico DOC is the modern Falernum with whites from Falanghina.
The extinct Roccamonfina volcano contributes volcanic soils to Villa Matilde and the other Falerno del Massico regions vineyards. The taste of the wine is fresh and mineral. Very pleasant to drink. It is one of my favorite white wines!
They also produce a wonderful rosato wine made from 100% Aglianico grapes.
Amy and David are friends of mine from the US. They live in an apartment in Vomero. A chic neighborhood just outside the city centre of Naples. It is a wonderful location. The views over the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius are amazing!
I met Amy and David at the Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano last year. They work at the United States Navy base. Tuscany wines are their favorites. As soon as they can they come to Montepulciano to get some Vino Nobile and Brunello bottles to bring home!
Together with people from the United Stated Navy base we did a cooking class. Two ladies from Naples prepared delicious local dishes for us. We were allowed to watch or even to help them!
Antipasto: mignon mozzarella di bufala, bruschette with cherry-tomatoes and basilicum, local cheeses and cold cuts
Primo piatto: pasta with pumpkin, pancetta and ricotta salata
Secondo piatto: stuffed involtini with white wine sauce
Contorno: garden peppers with black olives
Dessert: almond cake
Wine: “Falerno del Massico DOC” from Villa Matilde; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2017 from Gattavecchi.
Virtual wine tasting
The best way to discover the Italian culture obviously is through the wine! Sign up for the Sylvia Italy’s virtual wine tasting.
The Covid-19 measures in Italy are somewhat eased since early May. Restrictions on travel within the same region will be dropped on May 18. Shops, restaurants, hairdressers and bars are being allowed to reopen. Two weeks earlier than planned.
Movement in your own region is permitted. Without any “autocertificazione”. Finally we will be able to visit friends as long as they live in the same region.
Both regional and international borders will open from June 3. The Italian government wants to allow travel between the regions and the Schengen countries. People will be permitted to enter Italy without any restrictions. Tourists can travel to Italy again. Awesome!
I am excited that things are getting back to normal. That gives me hope. As in the lockdown period it seemed impossible. But just the idea of having a fresh pizza with a huge beer in a trattoria makes me feel very happy.
Bars have already reopened for take-away service. I love an Italian coffee after lunch. Recently I got a take-away coffee at the Piazza Grande. The coffee was good and it was nice talking to the locals again. Nonetheless… nothing beats an Italian coffee ” al banco”.
Gatherings of large groups are still banned. Unfortunately some important summer events have been cancelled. For example Umbria Jazz in Perugia. The festival will return in 2021.
Over de last few weeks I have been busy with setting up my wine business. I am working on a new online wine project. It is something that I have created together with a little help of my friends.
It will be a project with my own “Italian” identity. It is a personal investment in local wine. I find it a bit scary to invest in this period. We live in a difficult economic situation. But I must do something. And this is what I like too! I don’t know if I’ll have success but I keep up the good spirit.
vineyards in Montepulciano
Besides this new project I have published a new virtual wine experience page on my website. I organize from mid June free online wine tastings in Montepulciano.
I will use the Zoom application for the virtual wine tastings. More information about this will be followed.
I had a long period of knee problems. My right knee is doing much better. I go often by bike and I do my exercises to strengthen the muscles that support my knee. I am ready for a new running schedule. My trainer has sent me a new program for the upcoming two months. The priority is to restart. The runs are short and I have no idea how the results will be. But I am happy to start running again.
Virtual wine tasting
Last Saturday I had my first online Zoom wine tasting experience with a group of American people. I have a friend in NYC who organizes online meetings with friends. This time I was invited as a guest speaker.
Through the virtual wine tasting experience I showed two video’s of Montepulciano. I told the story of the winery and the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I enjoyed!
The meeting took about 1 hour. Talking to people on the other side of the world was great. A feeling of not being alone for a moment. I did this online wine tasting from my home in Montepulciano. Next time I’ll do the virtual tour in the winery.
As we all know people in Italy have been staying at home since 9 March. Schools, shops, restaurants, bars and many offices are closed. Since then I only go out for a good reason: grocery shopping. I live nearby the Conad grocery. It’s only 5 minutes walking.
Not only people but also cars are in lockdown. Like my car. The battery is low. I cannot even unlock the doors by pressing the button. Not that I have plans to drive but for getting some heavy stuff home from the supermarket a car will do well. I don’t know how to fix this problem though but every problem has a solution!
It’s a very strange and hard period. I am doing ok. At the very beginning I watched the press conference at the Rai24 station every day. Now I hardly see it anymore. For me it’s fine now to stay updated by reading some Tweet news from two Dutch journalists in Rome.
The last two days I was trying to get some walks and short runs nearby my house. I am allowed to do that only if I stay 200m away from home. I have run a piece with a face mask. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get fresh air. A face mask is not for runners. But in case the police stops me I have one with me.
I haven’t been fully recovered from my knee arthroscopy. My meniscus was very bad damaged because of the runnings. As doctor Ceppi told me so. I do my exercises every day to develop my leg muscles. It helps but it takes much longer to be back to my previous running shape. I guess..
Wine and Food
I didn’t stop tasting wines and eating good food during the lockdown. Honestly since we are at home I prepare more often delightful dishes for myself.
I am not disappointed about my cooking! But I am always struggling with a good Carbonara… any tip?
And yes I have good wines in my wine cellar. There’s no day without a good glass of wine. I do not only drink Sangiovese wines. As you might know Tuscany is known for it’s Sangiovese based wines.
To improve my palate I recently purchased some nice wines from winery Piandaccoli in Florence. They make excellent Chardonnay-Malvasia and Rosé wines. These wines pair well with fish dishes, antipasti and pasta.
In Holland we say every disadvantage has it’s vantage. That’s true. I got to know new neighbors since I am at home. They are lovely people. We got friends. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to have a dinner or an appetizer with them. Hopefully soon!
I also started studying my WSET level 3 wine exam. Every time when I read new things about wine I realize that I love the world of wines. It is interesting to discover new wines from all over the world. Knowing more about different grape varieties, how wines are made and how they might taste. I hope to be well prepared for the upcoming lessons and wine tastings.
And the good news is, I am working on a new wine project. A friend of mine suggested me to realize a new wine adventure now the tourism in Tuscany is shut down. An awesome idea! It is a lot of work, but I like it. I see this as a new career opportunity for myself with a lot of possibilities for Sylvia Italy in the nearby future.
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, WSET, provides education and qualifications in wines for professionals and enthusiasts. Level 2 Award in Wines is an intermediate level qualification.
During the course we studied about wines, grape varieties of the world, the regions in which they are grown and the styles of wine they produce.
Through a combination of (a lot) wine tasting and theory we explored the quality, the style and how to describe the wines.
Emily O’ Hare
Our teacher for WSET level 2 is Emily O’Hare. Emily is wine writer, sommelier and she teaches WSET courses in Tuscany. Originally she’s from London but is now based in Siena.
I personally enjoyed the wine study and the courses with Emily. We had a lovely group. Some participants were from my FISAR Sommelier course and some people were new. It was a nice experience and definitely a do thing. I look forward to start soon with WSET level 3.
I got my classification! I passed my exam. Result 94% and Grade Pass with distinction. Now I have two wonderful certificates, FISAR Sommelier and WSET level 2 Award in Wines.
I still need to learn a lot more about wines. But I have a lot of interest and I am passionate about wine. I live in a wine growing area and I work in the tourism and wine business.
Hand picking the grapes means that pickers go through the vineyard and pick the grapes bunch by bunch. They can choose the ripe grapes, or rather, they can avoid picking rotten or bad grapes.
Grape harvest Poggio alla Sala
The grape harvest in Tuscany usually occurs between September and October. The right period for harvesting is determined by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels. Also the weather is important by planning the time of the harvest.
Some winemakers determine whether to use hand-picker workers or mechanical harvest machinery. Some benefits of hand picking the grapes are:
Grapes are handled gently
The hand picked grapes are carefully laid out so that they arrive at the press intact
Hand picking means you care and care is what matters…
Poggio alla Sala
Winemaking process red wine
Wine making is a natural process that requires human intervention, but each winery guides the process though different techniques. In basic, there are five components of the wine making process:
Harvesting, Crushing and Pressing, Fermentation, Clarification, Aging and Bottling
After the grapes are sorted they are ready to be de-stemmed and crushed. Mechanical presses the grapes into must. Must is a freshly juice that contains the skins, seeds and solids.
Crushing the grapes
After crushing and pressing the fermentation begins. The fermentation continues until the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide CO2.
The crusher – destemmer
Grape skins and solids float to the top and need to be pushed back. The red wine juice is pomped from the bottom and splashed over the top of the grape cap.
When the fermentation has finished it is the time to clarify the wine. Filtration occurs by a filter. The clarified wine is ready for further aging in stainless steel, oak barrels or in bottels.
Poggio alla Sala
A group of workers at the vineyards of Poggio alla Sala picked the grapes with secateurs and put them in a basket. Then the grapes are put in a container and finally transported to the winery to be processed.
Hand picking Sangiovese grapes
Poggio alla Sala
Poggio alla Sala
The most planted grape at Poggio alla Sala is the Sangiovese grape. Poggio alla Sala is exposured in the southern part of Montepulciano. Some Etruscan objects are found here.
Wine maker Luca Gattavecchi
If you want gorgeous views as well as a good glass of wine than head to Poggio alla Sala. From here you see the Monte Amiata which influences the local climate of the lands and the vineyards.
Poggio alla Sala
Youtube video “hand picking grapes”
Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. Prugnolo Gentile is a clone of Sangiovese and is mainly grown for the expansion of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
The grapes are high in sugar, tannin and acidity. Gattavecchi produces high quality wines.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has potential for aging. After 3 years up the wine can be sold.
The wine estate Dievole is located in the Chianti Classico area, one of the most popular wine region of Tuscany between Siena and Florence. Dievole overlooks the wonderful vineyards and olive groves. It covers an area of 400 hectares within the Chianti Classico territory in Vagliagli.
Dievole is an old winery founded in the 11th century. This Italian winery has a thousand year history. Today Dievole is owned by an oil tycoon from Argentina Alejandro Bulgheroni and is part of a network of wineries in Tuscany: Chianti Classico, Bolgheri and Montalcino.
The winery Dievole produces elegant wines such as Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Vin Santo and IGT white wine. But they make also other Italian great wines: Bolgheri DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
During the wine tour we discovered the history and the taste of Dievole wines. We were with a small group of 9 persons (it is necessary to pre-arrange this wine experience).
Our guide waited for us at the wine shop. She started with a brief introduction to the wines and the history of Dievole. After a small talk we walked through the vineyards, the historic wine cellars and tasting rooms. After the tour we started with individual tastings of the quality wines including good cheeses and local meats.
Our guide was really knowledgeable and she answered all of our questions. It was a great wine experience at Dievole. The complex Dievole looks really amazing with good manicured gardens and great views over the vineyards. The is tour is about 2 hours long and we tasted 6 wines.
Everything from the wine, food pairings and lunch were top quality. We brought some bottles home. It was a wonderful experience.
Therefor… I will be back for sure for an other wine tour!