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Sunshine Wine from Campania

A recent to Campania to meet Claudio Panetta from Il Cancelliere led to the discovery of three more fantastic little natural wineries in the region.  Three days of tasting, talking, eating, drinking and enjoying the 25 degree heat (end of March!) and i decided to buy a few bottles of these authentic Campanian white wines.  Three artisan producers, Cantina del Barone, Cantina dell'Angelo and I Cacciagalli, three classic Campanian white grapes, Fiano, Greco and Falanghina, (with a little red Piedirosso thrown in!)............

La Cantina del Barone, Avellino.

Luigi Sarno, Wine maker Catina del Barone Luigi Sarno, Wine maker Catina del Barone

The tiny 2.5 hectare estate of Cantina del Barone lies tucked away in the Hills of Cesinali in the province of Avellino. In fact, from the road, you would barely notice it is there, so small and hidden away is the vineyard. The estate was owned by a Neapolitan Count who entrusted it to the Sarno family to look after for nearly a century. Antonio Sarno's dream became reality when in the early 80's he finally bought estate and planted the first vines of Fiano. In the late 90's the estate was taken over by Antonio's son Luigi, who, after studying Oenology at University in Puglia, returned to the family farm to breath a new life into the business and start to make World Class Fiano. From the outset, Luigi has been committed to natural production, the vineyard is now certified organic, all the wines are fermented with wild yeast in small stainless steel 'Cuve' and he uses only tiny amounts of sulphur at bottling. The wines have generally about 35 mg/l of total sulphur. Luigi is passionate about his vineyard, he operates the whole place single handed and as well as acting as wine maker and consultant for his friend Angelo at Cantina dell'Angelo up the road in Tufo.

150 year old Fiano Vine

He is also one of the nicest and most humble wine makers you can meet and his wines are an honest reflection of his personality. He produces only about 12000 bottles a year of Fiano in two distinctive Cuvee. Paone for early drinking and the richer and smokier Particella 928 for longer ageing. The wines are pure and delicious and are getting better and better every year.



Cantina dell'Angelo, Tufo

Angelo Muto and Luigi Sarno, Cantina dell'Angelo

Angelo Muto looks like your stereotypical southern Italian wine farmer. His small stubby cigar permanently hangs from his mouth, his low gravelly voice and serious demeanour can make you feel uneasy at first. But when he cracks a smile, the serious demeanour vanishes to reveal a warm, friendly guy with a great sense of humour and passion for his work. His approach to his work is totally natural and artisan. He works the vines with his father and employs help in the winery from his close friend and fellow wine maker Luigi Sarno from Cantina del Barone in Avellino. What makes Angelo's 5 hectares of Greco vineyard unique is its location above an abandoned Sulphur mine over 100 metres down below the hillside. The vines are between 400 and 600 metres above sea level with many over 35 years of age. The oldest vineyard called Torrefavale has some vines nearly 100 years old and is located directly above the mine. You can see clearly the make up of the volcanic 'Tufo' soil which has a mix of clay and limestone with chunks of chalk, quartz, and yellow striations of elemental sulfur, remnants of the ancient mine below. This special terroir imparts incredible minerality to the wine, subtle smokey notes, intense citrus flavours and subtle notes of herbs and white flowers (also abundant in the vineyard) and creates a Greco di Tufo with exceptional elegance and freshness. Although a humble artisan, Angelo's wine have a certain intellectual complexity to them, they are easy to enjoy on their own yet would match well with some fine seafood dishes.

Working the vines with old man Muto in Tufo, Campania



Azienda Agricola I Cacciagalli, Teano.

Mario Basco, I Cacciagalli

I Cacciagalli is the name given to the area of land where Diana and Mario Basco have started their biodynamic wine estate. The 9 hectares of vines are located in a small hamlet a couple of kilometres outside the town of Teano in the province of Caserta. The estate lies in the shadow of the inactive volcano Roccamonfina which gives rise to the complex volcanic terrain which impart such character to the wines. The volcanic soil is rich in minerals and in particular potassium and is very fertile. The surrounding woodland is full of chestnut and hazelnut trees, pine and many wild flowers and other fruits. This place is an oasis of calm where nature flourishes and here Mario and Diana live out their dream of creating high quality natural wines.

Walking the vines

Diana is an agronomist and the land has been in her family for generations, when she met passionate wine connoisseur Mario, they started their biodynamic farm and are now fully certified. They have started to ferment some of the wines in clay ovoid eggs, tucked away in the centuries old winery at their home. Mario is keen to experiment with his wines and uses a little skin contact for his whites although they are not really orange wines as such. The reds, in particular the rich and elegant Pallagrello are exceptional with long ageing potential.

Discussing biodynamics and fermentation in Eggs...

Cacciagalli is located in an ancient building which stretched back centuries to a time when it was the house of the noble family who owned the local land and rented it to peasants. The building houses a 500 year old cellar where Mario stores the wines once bottled. There is a true sense of nature and history at play at the beautiful estate. The wines have the authenticity and style to match.