Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vigne Sannite

The “Vigne Sannite” brand is owned by CECAS (Centro Cooperativo Agroalimentare Sannita) – an agricultural co-operative based in Sannio (Campania). Having produced the first wines under the Vigne Sannite name in 2005, the range of wines being produced has now increased and the co-operative’s members are now looking to export their wines.

The traditional Campanian grape varieties of Greco, Falanghina, Fiano, Coda di Volpe and Aglianico are all cultivated, along with some Barbera (a grape variety that the Vigne Sannite team claim has been planted in Sannio for around 200 years now) too.

Vinification is always in stainless steel, with oak only used in a very limited fashion for maturation. (Even the co-operative’s “flagship” red wine “Essentia” only sees 6 months in oak).

Unusually a passito-style sweet wine made from Moscato grapes is also produced.

Considering that these wines largely carry supermarket-level price tags, the level of quality attained is more impressive than it might be and these bottlings must be considered as good value “everyday” wines as a result.



Summary of Scores (Updated 26th July 2014)            

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Vigne Sannite Coda di Volpe
84
 
 
 
 
Vigne Sannite Falanghina
83
 
 
 
 
Vigne Sannite Barbera
 
86
 
 
 
Vigne Sannite Aglianico
 
 
86
 
 
Vigne Sannite Moscato Passito
 
86
 
 
 

Reviews from May 2014

Vigne Sannite Coda di Volpe del Sannio DOP (2013)
Coda di Volpe is a grape variety that is rarely seen outside of Italy, but is also one that is drunk with some gusto by locals in Campania! Offering an extremely mineral character, this Vigne Sanntie Coda di Volpe shows a hint of the sea on the nose, before flavours of pear join the sapid and salty minerality on the palate. A touch more acidity wouldn’t go amiss, but this bottling captures the basics of Coda di Volpe’s character well. 84 points.

Vigne Sannite Falanghina del Sannio DOP (2013)
Falanghina can vary substantially in character and this Vigne Sannite bottling seems to slightly more restrained and generic in character than some. Subtle white peach flavours form the basis of the palate, with a little pepper spice hinting at a more expressive character within. Good as a rather generic “quaffer” you can easily imagine this quenching the thirst of guests at a party. 83 points.

Vigne Sannite Barbera del Sannio DOP (2012)
The Barbera grapes used for this Vigne Sannite Barbera del Sannio are reportedly a different clone to those typically seen in Piedmont (as the grapes are larger and more closely packed on the vine). Both fermentation and maturation were in stainless steel. Notably aromatic as it is approached, this bottling is medium bodied, plummy and extremely drinkable, with hints of red cherry lending some depth. The tannic extraction has been carefully managed to ensure that this Vigne Sannite Barbera remains approachable and this wine would even be fun if slightly chilled on a hot day. 86 points.

Vigne Sannite Aglianico del Sannio DOP (2011)
One of only three Vigne Sannite wines to see the inside of a barrel, this Aglianico del Sannio was fermented in stainless steel tanks before being matured for 6 months in large oak casks. Flavours of plums and damsons define this Vigne Sannite Aglianico that offers plenty of forward fruit flavours, as well as a hint of tea. Again the tannins are supple and do not intrude. 86 points.

Vigne Sannite Moscato Passito, Sannio DOP (2012)
Only 3000 bottles of this sweet Moscato are produced by the Vigne Sannite team each year. After a late harvest, the grapes are laid out on racks to dry (until the first week of December). Fermentation in stainless steel tanks was then followed by six months of maturation in a large oak cask. Not as unctuous as some Moscato Passitio, this Vigne Sannite offering is nonetheless enticing and well balanced. Flavours of marmalade and fresh citrus zests form the basis for the medium bodied palate, which is kept fresh by a cleansing acidity. There’s a nice persistence to this Vigne Sannite bottling too. 86 points.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Fontanavecchia

The Rillo family first planted vines around what has now become the Fontanavecchia winery about 150 years ago. Located in the region of Sannio (within Campania) the family now tend 14 hectares of vines and produce around 160,000 bottles of wine per year.

Giuseppe and Libero Rillo learnt their trade from their father Orazio and they turn out a surprisingly diverse range of wines from what is a relatively small selection of vineyard holdings. The main grapes are of course those that are native to Campania (with a special focus on Falanghina, Fiano and Aglianico), although small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon are also cultivated (before being blended into the family’s “Orazio” red).

A production philosophy that could be considered quite eccentric, sees a rare “Classic Method” Spumante (produced from Aglianico grapes) sit alongside a Charmat Method sparkling wine (made from Falanghina grapes), two oak-matured Falanghina and a number of French oak matured reds in the Fontanvecchia range.

Of the wines that The Independent Wine Review was able to sample the Aglianico del Taburno was the most impressive. Although, the two whites tasted (the Falanghina del Taburno and Fiano del Sannio) also showed impressive length and intensity.

 

Summary of Scores (Updated 26th July 2014)            

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Fontanavecchia Falanghina del Taburno
88
 
 
 
 
Fontanavecchia Fiano del Sannio
87
 
 
 
 
Fontanavecchia Aglianico Rosato
86
 
 
 
 
Fontanavecchia Aglianico del Taburno
 
 
 
 
90

Reviews from May 2014

Fontanavecchia Falanghina del Taburno DOC (2013)
Falanghina is easily Campania’s most planted grape variety and so often it makes its way into rather insipid “table wines” that are sold for less than €3 a bottle in Campania itself. This Falanghina del Taburno from Fontanavecchia is somewhat better than that though! Intensely spicy on the nose, this medium bodied Falanghina offers great flavoural intensity and balance on the palate, with flavours of nectarines, orange zest and white pepper combining beautifully. The finish is elegant and fairly persistent too. 88 points.

Fontanavecchia Fiano del Sannio DOC (2013)
Fiano from Sannio does not carry the same cachet and Fiano from Avellino, however, this bottling proves that decent wines can be made here too. Subtle aromas of pears and almonds great you as you approach this wine, before a steely mineral emerges on the palate. This bottling captures the essence of the Fiano grape and would make a classy partner to most seafood dishes. 87 points.

Fontanavecchia Aglianico Rosato, Taburno DOC (2013)
More and more rosé wines are being produced from the Aglianico grape these days and they can be fairly successful thanks to this grape variety’s prominent acidity. Here this Fontanavecchia offering conjures up images of just picked raspberries and sour wild strawberries as well as introducing a pleasing and refreshing mineral undertone. Really quite a vivid salmon colour, it is a surprise that there has not been more tannic extraction too. 86 points.

Fontanavecchia Aglianico del Taburno DOC (2009)
(When vinified as a red wine) Aglianico is a grape that really flourishes with a little bit of maturation and so is the case with this Fontanavecchia Aglianico del Taburno. 9 months in French oak barriques and a further 4 years in bottle have created a wine that is drinking really well at the moment. Ripe and yet simultaneously sour dark cherry flavours form the base of this wine, with chocolate, liquorice and subtle spice flavours brought about by this wine’s extended maturation slowly emerging as it evolves on your tongue. The tannins are also now impressively smooth. 90 points.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Montesole

The Montesole winery was established in 1996 and sits on the border between the districts of Irpina and Sannio in Campania. Here in this rugged and hilly area, indigenous Campanian vines thrive in soils rich in volcanic materials.

Despite being made in a rather soulless industrial unit outside of Montefusco, the wines of the Montesole winery can be surprisingly characterful. A range of more than 30 different bottlings is divided across 5 sub-ranges, with the “bulk” IGT range of wines being sold only in Italy and with the winery increasingly looking to export it’s premium “cru” and DOCG classified wines.

The Montesole whites that The Independent Wine Review has sampled were generally well made, if somewhat straightforward bottlings. Predictably it was the “cru” Fiano d’Avellino and Greco di Tufo that offered the most interest amongst the whites.

However, a policy of only releasing red wines when they are mature and ready for drinking has yielded some genuinely accomplished and attractive wines. Both the mature “Sairus” Aglianico and “classic” Aglianico were drinking beautifully when the tasting notes below were written.

The sparkling wines tasted were again crisp and nicely made, if a little lacking in flair.
 

Summary of Scores (Updated 26th July 2014)            

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2008
2007
Montesole Brut
84
 
 
 
 
Montesole Rosé Extra Dry
86
 
 
 
 
Montesole “Vigna Acquaviva” Fiano d’Avellino
 
86
 
 
 
Montesole “Vigna Breccia” Greco di Tufo
 
86
 
 
 
Montesole “Sairus” Aglianico
 
 
 
91
 
Montesole (Classic) Taurasi
 
 
 
 
90

Reviews from May 2014

Montesole Brut, Vino Spumante IGT (2013)
This Montesole Brut one of a number of new sparkling wines now being made in Campania from the Greco grape. Vinified using the Charmat method (ala Prosecco), this Montesole Brut is based on flavours of pears and a bright acidity. Dry in style (7g/l residual sugar), hints of fresh bread soften the impact of what is quite an aggressive mousse. 84 points.

Montesole Rosé Extra Dry, Vino Spumante IGT (2013)
Made purely from Aglianico grapes (vinified using the Charmat method), this Rosé Extra Dry from Montesole is a clever and attractive sparkling wine. Fine bubbles run through the rich salmon colour in the glass, before bursting to release aromas of red cherries and spring blossoms. Flavours of nectarines and hints of white bread define the palate, whilst a crisp acidity ensures refreshment. 86 points.

Montesole “Vigna Acquaviva” Fiano di Avellino DOCG (2012)
This “Vigna Acquaviva” is a single vineyard Fiano that is bottled under the Fiano di Avellino DOCG designation. One of the Montesole winery’s “flagship” wines, vinification was in steel only, with 3 months of lees aging permitted. Delicately aromatic on the nose, flavours of peach, hazelnut and a gentle chalky minerality emerge on the palate. There is some persistence on the finish. 86 points.

Montesole “Vigna Breccia” Greco di Tufo DOCG (2012)
Another single vineyard white, this “Vigna Breccia” Greco di Tufo offers a pleasingly individual style. Wisps of grapefruit essence emerge cautiously from the glass, before fairly intense flavours of nectarine appear so as to underpin the palate. An obvious steely minerality combines with a prominent level of acidity to lend drive and this “Vigna Breccia” Greco seems more focussed than the “Vigna Acquaviva” Fiano as a result. 86 points.

Montesole “Sairus” Aglianico, Campania IGT (2008)
The team at the Montesole winery only release this “Sairus” Aglianico after it has seen 2.5 years in large oak barrels, 8 months in stainless steel tanks and a further 2 years in bottle and their patience has really paid off. Made from Aglianico grapes grown in Avellino, this bottling exhibits prominent aromas of dark cherries, chocolate and balsamic notes on the nose and a rich, smooth palate. Flavours of ripe dark cherries gradually give way to an earthy and complex mid-palate and a long, elegant finish. Gummy tannins enhance the sense of richness in the mid-palate, whilst clove nuances lend further complexity. A nicely delineated sense of acidity balances the finish. 91 points.

Montesole (Classic) Taurasi DOCG (2007)
This “Classic” Montesole Taurasi is matured in the same way as the superb “Sairus” Aglianico (above), but this time the Aglianico grapes destined to become this Taurasi come from vineyards further to the East. More traditional in style, this Montesole Taurasi again leads with flavours of dark cherries, but instead segues into a more austere mid-palate of coffee and earthy spices. The tannins and acidity are more prominent here too, although this is to be expected in a wine that could be matured in bottle for another 20 years yet. 90 points.