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Campania Native Vines – First Part
Rosa D'Ancona – March 1, 2006



Introduction

 
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The Campania region has played a truly important part in the evolution of viticulture and worldwide enology, with a vine-growing tradition that dates back to the 13th century BC. Most likely the first vines were brought to this region by the ancient Greeks. Viticulture was then further developed by the Romans who, more than any other civilization, contributed to spreading the culture of vine growing and winemaking.

The archeological sites of Ercolano and Pompei offer one of the most important insights into the everyday life of the Roman times. In those towns, frozen in time by the sudden lava eruption of nearby Vesuvio volcano, the symbols and references to enology are among the most recurrent.

The best wines were kept in special terra cotta amphora called doli, which were sealed by the pittacium, upon which the zone of origin of the grapes and the year of harvest were written. This is the prove that in this region the concept of denomination of origin was already known and appreciated back then. In other words, the ancient Romans knew how important the place where the grapes are grown in relation to the quality of wine was.

It's not by chance that many wines drunk by the Roman emperors were produced in Campania.

Since then the vineyards have been researched, described, classified and selected, in order to spread only the best varieties. The experts of the time – Plinus, Columella, Virgil, Cato – described Vitis Hellenica, Vitis Apiana and Aminea Gemina, which are nothing more than the forefathers of the current Aglianico, Fiano and Greco (which actually, means Greek in Italian).

An important part of preserving the many varieties of grapes currently found in this region has been played by the various microclimates as well as the soil composition. The soil, often being made of volcanic matter, inhibited the spread of vine illnesses until the end of the 19th century, preserving the local varieties instead of stimulating the introduction of vines from other regions.

Nonetheless, the tragic phylloxera epidemic that hit Europe at the beginning of the 20th century,  wiped out the enormous vine legacy of the region almost completely. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the catastrophic event, the Campania viticulture was left behind and, along with the products of other historic southern grape regions, the fruit of its vineyards was shipped mostly to the north, where it was used in Italian and French blends.

In the last 20 years though, a complete turn-around has taken place. Thanks to the commitment of local producers who, supported by the regional administration, focused again more and more on native vines and started bottling the wines in-house rather than  shipping it bulk to other regions or abroad.

The results were almost immediate. Currently the 39,000 hectares (around 90,371 acres) of regional vineyards produce a yearly average of 2 million hectoliters (over 52.83 million gallons) of wine, with a respectable part going into production of DOC and DOCG wines. There are currently 20 DOC and DOCG wines produced in Campania and, since 2004, IGT Campania, whose authorized grapes are exclusively from native vines, was added to the existing nine IGT denominations.

The institution of 10 wine roads further contributed to promoting the vitinicultural potential of the region.

Campania

The panorama of the Campania native vine, with many varieties suited to produce typical unique wines, represents a winning hand in the highly competitive game between Italian and the New World wine producers.

The Agricultural Council of the Campania region (SeSIRCA), in collaboration with the Department of Tree Culture of the Agricultural Institute, Frederick II, in Naples, and the Agriculture Institute San Michele all'Adige, conducted a study entitled "La risorsa genetica della vite in Campania" (The Genetic Vine Resources of the Campania Region). The goal of the study was to scientifically analyze the native vines, including the minor and lesser known and cultivated vines in the various wine zones. In addition to bringing to light many cases of homonyms and synonyms, the research identified three main ancient groups from which many vines originated and mutated.

  • Viti di mare (Seaside Vines): these are truly ancient coastal varieties which appear to be at the base of many crossbreeds currently well spread and cultivated;
  • Viti di fuoco (Fire Vines): these vines are found and thrive in volcanic areas;
  • Viti di terra (Land Vines): these vines are found more inland in the region, and the different varieties are less similar compared to the other two groups, probably because they are influenced more deeply by the nature of the soil.

Using a Lista Minima (Minimum List), based upon a group of 37 ampelographic characteristics defined by the Scheda Ampelografica (Ampelographic File) by OIV (Organizzazione Italiana Vini, or Italian Wine Organization) as a benchmark, the research described for the first time ever, 34 regional vine varieties which had never been studied before and were not registered in the National Registry of the Vine Varieties. In particular, four vine varieties from the Amalfi Coast – Pepella, Ripoli, Fenile and Ginestra – and three from the Caserta wine zone – Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia – showed great potential for the production of strongly unique wines, with aromatic profiles that are extremely typical and original.

The addition of these vines to the list of authorized and recommended varieties for the production zones provided producers with additional tools to improve their enological production, all with total respect for traditions and environment, with no contamination by non-native varieties.

The most important and well known vines are currently undergoing a natural clone selection to allow the identification of various healthy ecotypes, which present enological characteristics that can improve the production quality. Three clones of Aglianico di Taurasi (Aglianico AV2, AV5 and AV9), which produce wines with greater persistence and aromatic complexity with flavor balance, have already been sanctioned. In particular, the new clones highlight the cherry, blackberry, wild berry jam and cassis notes. Three clones of Aglianico Beneventano, one clone of Sciascinoso, plus clones of Piedirosso and Falangina are next in line for recognition.

DOC and DOCG wines made with the main native vines

NATIVE GRAPES DOC WINES
DOCG WINES
Aglianico (red)
  • Aglianico del Taburno
  • Cilento
  • Falerno del Massico
  • Galluccio
  • Solopaca
  • Guardiolo
  • Sannio
  • Sant'Agata dei Goti
  • Taburno

 

Asprinio (white)
  • Asprinio D'Aversa

 

Biancolella (white)
  • Campi Flegrei
  • Capri
  • Costa d'Amalfi
  • Penisola Sorrentina
Coda di Volpe Bianca (white)
  • Lacryma Christi
  • Sannio
  • Taburno

 

Falanghina (white)
  • Campi Flegrei
  • Capri
  • Costa d'Amalfi
  • Falerno del Massico
  • Galluccio
  • Guardiolo
  • Sannio
  • Sant'Agata dei Goti
  • Solopaca
  • Sorrento
  • Taburno
Fiano (white)
  • Cilento
  • Sannio
  • Fiano d'Avellino
Forastera (white)
  • Ischia
Greco
  • Capri
  • Sannio
  • Sant'Agata dei Goti
  • Taburno,
  • Greco di Tufo
Guarnaccia (red)
  • Ischia
Piedirosso (red)
  • Campi Flegrei
  • Capri
  • Costa d'Amalfi
  • Ischia
  • Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio
  • Penisola Sorrentina
  • Sannio
  • Sant'Agata dei Goti
  • Taburno

 

Sciascinoso (red)
  • Campi Flegrei
  • Costa d'Amalfi
  • Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio
  • Penisola Sorrentina
  • Sannio

Campania IGT Wines

IGT WINES

NATIVE GRAPES

Beneventano

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Colli di Salerno

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Moscato Bianco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Dugenta

  • Aglianico
  • Asprinio Bianco
  • Biancolella
  • Coda di Volpe Bianca
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Forastera
  • Greco
  • iedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Epomeo

  • Arilla
  • Biancolella
  • Forastera
  • Piedirosso
  • San Lunardo

Irpinia

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Paestum

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Pompeiano

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Roccamonfina

  • Aglianico
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso

Terre del Volturno

  • Aglianico
  • Asprinio
  • Coda di Volpe
  • Falangina
  • Fiano
  • Greco
  • Piedirosso
  • Sciascinoso


 
 
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