01 February 2010
Posted in FOOD AND WINE
Most of the Italian wines which have received critical acclaim in the past have been Northern varieties, with the South being seen as producing mainly slightly acidic wines made to be drunk immediately. In ancient times, however, it was the region of Campania and the surrounding area which produced the most prized wines.
As more and more Southern wines have earned DOC status, regions such as Campania have seen a resurgence in wine-making.
One of the most famous Southern grapes, grown mainly in Campania and Basilicata, is the complex red Aglianico. In Campania, the best known of these is Taurasi, which has been christened by wine experts as “the Barolo of the South,” due to the size of the tannins and its propensity to age well. Its strong flavours and high acidity levels pair well with game such as wild boar, a favourite during the colder months in Campania, and spicy, flavoursome pasta sauces such as arrabbiata, made with tomatoes, garlic and chillies, or puttanesca, made with tomatoes, garlic, chillies, black olives, capers and anchovies. Its robust flavours also go extremely nicely with spicy Italian salamis and the stronger cheeses.
Aglianico is often paired with other red grapes to change and lighten the powerful flavours. One such grape is Piedirosso, which transforms Aglianico into something sweeter and smoother.
By itself, Piedirosso creates a fruity, spicy wine which pairs beautifully with red meat, poultry cooked in stronger flavoured sauces, such as chicken cacciatore, and with ripe cheeses.
One of the blends made with Piedirosso and Aglianico is the red of the famous Lacryma Christi (Tears of Christ), so named for the legend that during the ascension Christ wept tears of joy at the beauty of the Bay of Naples and these tears fell on the slopes of Vesuvius where vines miraculously sprouted. It is said that it is the grapes from these vines that are used to make Lacryma Christi. The red is a dark, fruity and spicy wine that is best drunk just one or two years from the vintage date.
The white, sparkling and rosé versions are made for immediate consumption and should be consumed within one year of the vintage date. The white varieties are made with Coda di Volpe grapes, so named for the shape of the bunched fruits, and are generally crisp and dry but also come in slightly syrupy desert varieties. These are easy drinking wines, excellent with simple pasta dishes and pizzas.
Other whites in the Campania area include Greco di Tufo, a crisp, dry white with a pale colour which is best enjoyed with seafood. Another famous wine is Falanghina, a pale, yellowy white wine with a stronger flavour and almond accents, also excellent with fish. For those that prefer a medium white, Fiano, with its slightly floral nose and light flavour is also excellent, in particular as an aperitif wine before a meal, or again with simply cooked fish and salad.
If you are a wine lover, you will be spoilt for choice in this region of Italy, one of the country’s best kept wine secrets. Why not have a wine bar with a variety of flavours at your wedding? Or, if you want something a little different for your guests, organise wine tasting with a professional sommelier. Alternatively, you might want to incorporate your love of wine into your honeymoon by organising tours of cellars, vineyards and wine producers, or even attending sommelier classes to blow your friends and family away with your new-found knowledge on your return.