Campania, what’s that? That’s a question that is not unusual when I mention one of Italy’s most interesting – and most underrated – wine regions. I can agree that it is not so easy to keep track of all the Italian regions, wines and grapes. Italy’s big names, Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily and Veneto take up so much space that it is difficult for other Italian regions to get some time in the limelight. But if there is anyone who deserves a moment in the spotlight, it is Campania.
Campania, as also the Italians say, is a region full of life where the largest city is Naples. This is where you find the best pizzas are the worst traffic and the Roman ruin-city of Pompeii. In Campania you also have the incredibly beautiful Amalfi Coast, where the pastel-coloured villages of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello are reflected like jewels in the blue Mediterranean Sea.
Incredible to imagine that the Italians grow wine here, on the steep slopes that look like they plunge headlong into the sea!
Lemons are also plentiful. They are used to make limoncello, a must-have after a long dinner. “In order to digest food”, the waiters usually say with a shrewd smile.
Limoncello is made by letting lemon peel soak in alcohol for at least 24 hours. Then you add sugar syrup to get to the right taste. All families have their own recipes, more or less sweet, and so on. Everyone claims, of course, with vivid hand gestures, that their own limoncello is the best!
But Campania is not just sun, sand and luxurious holiday villages. If you go inland you come to Irpinia located along the spine of Italy the Apennines mountain range. The high mountains have limestone and volcanic soils and create optimal conditions for the production of white wines. And they certainly make white wines of the highest quality in Irpinia.
Fiano, for example, which is one of Italy’s best white grapes. Try the wine and I am sure you will agree! For example, from the producer Pietracupa that with its elegant and mineral wines can convince the most sceptical. Other producers with virtually cult status in Italy are Feudi di San Gregorio and Mastroberardini.
In the region you find many more interesting white grapes, such as Greco making the wine Greco di Tufo on, or Falanghina, both making excellent and affordable wines that deserve more attention.
But there are not only white wines!
Campanian great red wine is Aglianico di Taurasi. The Aglianico grape, which thrives in the volcanic soil, gives long-lived wines with a lot of tannins, acidity and colour. It makes dry, full-bodied wines that require food. It is not without reason that they call Aglianico the Barolo of the South!
Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. She has a passion for all things Italian, so much so that she married an Italian and stayed in Florence after having come there to study political science.