The ‘shin' of Italy’s boot, Campania is one of the country’s oldest wine regions (the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines all planted grapes here), anchored by its capital city, Naples. The name is derived from the Latin Campania Felix meaning ‘happy land or  ‘fertile countryside’ - and while not affluent in the pecuniary sense (it ranks 18th out of 20 Italians regions in GDP), Campania is flush with the stuff most of us conjure when we contemplate Italy. Naples, the country’s third largest city (after Rome and Milan) is the historic capital of Baroque style,  the cradle of pizza and pasta,  home to Europe’s largest old town center (a UNESCO world heritage site) and some 500 domed churches dating back to the early Christian era. It sits in the shadow of  Mt. Vesuvius, an active volcano whose 79 AD eruption created the famous ruins of Pompeii, and splashes into the Gulf of Naples, populated by the postcard islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida.  The city remains a vibrant culinary, cultural, and artistic hub today, with more Michelin starred restaurants than any other place  in Italy, world famous palaces, museums, and public art, including street murals and celestial metro stations.  

Venture outside Naples and Campania continues to astonish. There’s the famous Amalfi coast - 34 of Italy’s most fabled miles, where the towns of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi itself, and Ravello stipple brightly coloured dwellings in, around and down the crags of jagged cliffs slicing the azure brushstrokes of Tyrrhenian Sea and sky. Head further inland and you’ll discover no less eye-popping landscapes composed of verdant forests, hills, valleys, and mountains. 

And everywhere, there are grape vines. Five provinces comprise Campania: Napoli, Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, and Salerno, and they all produce wine. Grapes have taken to the region’s abundant sunshine, hot and dry summers, mild winters, volcanic soil, and cool winds from the sea and mountains since antiquity. The legendary Roman tipple Falernian, ostensibly gifted by the wine god Bacchus to local farmer Falernus (it is thought to have been a varietal wine from a grape the Romans called Aminea Gemina, though no one’s sure) was at one point famous enough for several ancient sources to extol the 121 BC vintage in particular, some 200 years later. (Pliny the Elder, for his part, judged it past its prime.) 

Today Campania, like so many other parts of Italy, hosts a cluster of varietals barely grown anywhere else. The most notable whites are Falaghina, Greco di Tufo, and Fiano, the latter known in Latin as "Vitis Apiana" (bee's vine) because of the pollinators’ fondness for it. At its best, Fiano is distinctive, complex, and age-worthy, with floral aromas, generous orchard, and citrus fruit notes, complimented by vibrant acidity, minerality, and herb accents. Our white this month is one such bottling from Cantina La Rivolta; it is excellent alongside a wide variety of food, and will make a great Thanksgiving white. 

The most famous red grape in the region is Aglianico, a full bodied varietal which ripens so late it cannot be grown any further north and is sometimes known as the ‘Barolo of the South’, due to its elegant tannins and aging potential.  Our red this month is its frequent blending partner Piederosso (“red feet”), an ancient black-skinned grape native (and as far I can tell, exclusive) to Campania that was until recently rarely bottled on its own. Morone is a tiny minimal intervention winery that does the varietal right, arranging all its floral, earthy,  savory, spicy, and mineral eccentricities into a unique and delicious bouquet that will enliven most anything on your holiday meal table. 

Alan Hicks - Wine Buyer, Noe Valley  

Cantina La Rivolta Fiano Taburno Sannio DOP 2020

Region: Benevento, Campania, Italy

About the Winery: Located in Torrecuso, in the province of Benevento, Fattoria La Rivolta consists of hilly lands that range in altitude from 300 to 600 meters. With unique soils of limestone and clay, the vineyards are located in one of the smallest DOCs in the region, Campania's Taburno, home to some of the most picturesque and mountainous vineyards in all of Europe. The Cotroneo family has made their home in the region for several generations. At the beginning of the twentieth century, grandparents Giovanni and Teresa maintained and cultivated one of the largest agricultural farms in Benevento, which was later divided amongst their eight grandchildren.

After joining lands with his brother Mario, Paolo Cotroneo launched Fattoria La Rivolta in 1997. A third generation farmer, Paolo immediately began to organically cultivate his vines, earning certification from ICEA, the Istituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale, in 2001. A family affair that includes two sisters and a cousin, these 29 hectares of cultivated vineyards are hand harvested to produce low yields and farmed without the use of chemical treatments

About the Winemaking:  Approximately 29 hectares of the hilly, calcareous-clay land are planted with vines and hand harvested to produce low yields, without the use of chemical treatments. Biological methods have been utilized since 1997, earning them an organic certification by ICEA. Harvest in mid-October from 30-40 year old vines. Fermentation is done in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts over 15 days with one day of cold maceration. The grapes belong to the DOC Taburno or Sannio, planted around vertical trellis with guyot pruning system or cordon pruning. The grapes harvested on the farm are, white Falanghina grape, Coda di Volpe, Fiano, and Greco; red grapes include Aglianico and Piedirosso. 

Tasting Notes: A complex bouquet of peach skins and mint with a touch of smoke and nuttiness. Texture is silky, with a  saline minerality and ripe pear and lime notes leading to the characteristic hazelnut finish. Rich and round but with great acidity.

Winemaker: Paolo Cotroneo

Price per bottle / per case

$28         $302.40

Suggested Food Pairing: Will work well with Thanksgiving fare but also roast chicken,  richer seafood preparations, like salmon, lobster and monkfish or seafood pastas, vegetable dishes like eggplant Paremesan with mozzarella di buffala and herbal risottos.

Cantina Morone Sannio Piedirosso Fiori Di Galano 2018

Region: Sannio, Benevento, Campania, Italy

About the Winery: The Morone winery is located in the medieval village of Guardia Sanframondi, a municipality on the hill overlooking the valley of the Calore River and Mount Taburno, also known as the “Dormant del Sannio” profile.

It is small certified-organic family farm run by siblings Eleanora and Giovanni. While the azienda was officially incorporated only in 2011, the vineyards have been farmed by the family for generations. For generations, fruit was sold in bulk to the local cantina sociale. Today, Eleanora and Giovanni concentrate on grapes indigenous to this corner of Campania: Falanghina, Fiano, Piedirosso, and Barbera del Sannio (which bears no relation to the similarly named Piedmontese varietal). They produce wine in small quantities, attuned to the differences between parcels. Their agricultural practices are biodynamic. The days of pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation are long gone.

About the Winemaking: This is a cru Piedirosso produced from a special parcel within a 15 year old vineyard. As with all of Cantina Morone´s wines, organic practices are followed in the vineyards. Intervention is minimal, and all grapes are harvested by hand. The Piedirosso grapes undergo a 15-25 day fermentation using indigenous yeast in stainless steel. The grapes and wine are moved by gravity. To minimize use of sulfites and oxidation, the grapes are kept under a blanket of inert gas and crushed in a closed press.

Tasting Notes: Peppery/floral nose with a dark fruit palate of  blackberry, blueberry, plum, black cherry, and forest floor earth. Soft tannins and touch of spice on finish.

Winemaker: Giovanni & Eleonora Morone

Price per bottle / per case

$28                 $302.40

Suggested Food Pairing: Stuffing, garlic roasted mushrooms, mashed potatoes, green beans with caramelized onions and almonds, margherita pizza, tomato bashed dishes, grilled meats 

Gnocchi alla sorrentina (Sorrento style gnocchi)

This is an easy and light dish to make. Both wines will work for this dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g potato gnocchi 

400g San Marzano tomatoes (fresh or canned)

200g mozzarella (fresh, soft, not hard.)

2 garlic cloves


Fresh basil leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

-In sauce pan with 2tbs of olive oil let the sliced garlic get some color (not brown!) and add the tomatoes seeded and finely chopped. Cook over medium flame for 10-15 minutes

-Cut the mozzarella in diced cubes, 1 inch size

-In a large pot bring water to boil, add a big pinch of rock salt and drop the gnocchi

-The gnocchi are be done when all of them will surface on the water

-Don’t drain the gnocchi in a calendar, they will stick, but using a skimmer remove and transfer them in an baking pan with tomato sauce, the mozzarella, plenty of grated parmigiano and several basil leaves

-Bake in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes*

-Serve hot, garnished with more basil leaves (If you like to have a nice golden crust, broil high for 3 extra minutes)

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