Feudi di san Gregorio, Campania

As in much of the deep south of Italy, the rural landscape of Campania is beautiful and timeless, with ancient olive trees set behind white-stone walls, groves of oranges and lemons and, of course, vines. Fuedi di san Gregorio is one of the largest and most famous wine producers of the region, specifically of Irpinia, the historical inland sub-region around the town of Avellino, 50 kilometres east of Naples.

Irpinia and Avallino mapFuedi di san Gregorio focuses on the three major grapes of the region, Aglianico for red wines and Fiano and Greco for white wines, and the three synonymous DOCG regions, Taurasi, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. The estate was founded in 1986 by two local families who, from the outset, referenced their vineyards and wines through art, the winery designed by renowned Japanese architect Hikaru Mori, interiors and even the Feudi’s logo and labels the work of Massimo and Lella Vignelli, husband and wife design team whose work included everything from the modernist New York Subway map, to Bloomingdale’s shopping bags.

Taking their names from the grapes they grow, the Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo appellations share certain characteristics. Avellino’s soils are mineral-rich, on a volcanic and limestone base, while Tufo is also of volcanic origin, it takes its name from tufa, the specific soil of the region composed of volcanic ash compacted over millenia. Volcanic soils play their part in Taurasi too, but it is a complex patchwork that also includes chalk and limestone. The best vineyards in each region tend to have some altitude, at around 400 metres, and Fuedi di san Gregorio say Irpinia benefits from “a system of winds gives the region good rainfall and creates a microclimate that sets it apart from the other Campania areas.”

Today around 3.5 million bottles are produced annually, from Fuedi di san Gregorio’s 600 hectares of vineyard and local growers. A third white grape, Falanghina, is also grown and bottled as a varietal wine, and there are other minor varieties, again all indigenous to the area, including Coda di Volpe and Biancolella. It appears to be an absolutely meticullous operation, their vineyards mapped into almost 800 distinct parcels, their super-modern winery bristling with state of the art technology. Wines are bottled under ‘DIAM’, taint-free, techincal corks.

Fuedi di san GregorioI’ve been a fan of Feudi di san Gregorio’s whites for years, the first tasting notes in my database dating from 2002. The limpid, textured but super-fresh character of those is still hugely appealing, but it was eye-opening to be introduced to two of their red Aglianico wines from Taurasi: the approachable but impeccably-made Taurasi 2013, and the profound single-vineyard cuvée, Piano di Montevergine 2012. It is a wine-making operation with quality stamped all over it.

The Wines

(2018) The vinification is similar to the Greco, with four to five months on the lees in tank. It seems a little firmer, more strict on the nose than the Greco, with citrus and herbs and a steely green apple character. In the mouth a similar limpid texture, but indeed the acidity is higher and the whole picture more sharply chiselled, some fat around the mid-palate swept up in a mineral salts and lemony acidity.
(2018) Aged only in stainless steel tanks, in contact with the lees, there's a bold, assertive creamy pear fruitiness on the nose here, with a little exotic undertow. In the mouth that succulent, ripe orchard fruit has weight and texture, a little guava or mango gives both sweetness and a welcome sour edge, the rounded, custardy, generous acidity adding to the succulence.
(2018) 100% Aglianico, this spends approximately 18 months in medium-toasted French oak, then nine more months in bottle before release. Creamy and fragrant, this is at once more open and rather softer than the single-vineyard Piano di Montevergine. Lovely graphite and bay leaf nuances over ripe black berries, touches of something more floral. In the mouth it is firm, but nowhere near the muscular extraction of the Piano di Montevergine, rather a more juicy and open fruitiness, edged by cherry-ish acidity, but then a twist of endive and liquorice shows the structure that lies within. This is long, taut, but fruity and spicy, and will have staying power too.
(2018) This 100% Aglianico cuvée is from a single vineyard and is aged for 18 months in medium-toast new French barriques, with a minimum of an extra 24 months in bottle before release. It's an extremely dense and powerful wine, with massive concentration, yet there is light and shade. Briar, liquorice and dark, vinous plummy fruit on the nose is just starting to allow some delicate rose and cherry character to emerge. In the mouth it is strapping stuff, an onslaught of sweet fruit that is cloaked in tannin and bright acidity, a touch of charry coffeeish oak, and just loads of extract and substance. Hugely serious, muscular and impressive, this is worth tucking away for at least five more years before broaching, but if opening now, decant for a couple.

2 comments

    1. Yes, always loved the whites as I say in the article, and those early tastings of their Fiano and Falanghina almost 20 years ago opened my eyes to the quality whites of Campania.

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