Campania is the "shin" of Italy's boot, anchored by its capital, Naples. Its name comes from Campania Felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning "happy land". The region has strong historical links to wine and vine, dating back to the 12th Century BC, and is one of Italy's very oldest wine regions. The considerable influence of ancient empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, means some of this area's varieties have historical legends attached. The area is also famous for producing Falerno (Falernum), one of the most ancient wines in Italy.
And here comes the story of Villa Matilde, the first winery we visited.
The history of Villa Matilde began in the 1960s, when Francesco Paolo Avallone, a lawyer with a passion for ancient wines and an abiding interest in the “vinum Falernum” as described in the accounts of Pliny and in the poetry of Virgil, Martial and Horace, decided to bring back to life that legendary wine, which had disappeared in the early 20th century. With the assistance of a group of friends, including professors in the department of Crop Sciences at the University of Naples, Avallone was able to identify, after years of study, the grape varieties that had produced Falernum in Roman times. With the help of local farmers, he re-planted the handful of vines that had miraculously survived devastation by phylloxera in the late 19th century, right in the Monte Massico area where they had flourished in ancient times, and he then founded Villa Matilde.
We stayed in Naples and took a long walk on via Caracciolo from where we could admire Posillipo hill and Capri, the three castles of Castel del Ovo, Castel Sant'Elmo and Maschio Angioino, the Royal Palace, San Carlo Theater, the older theater of the world, and finally dinned at Leon d'Oro, a typical, traditional restaurant, which serves extraordinary and delicious food.
After a cornetto and cappuccino the next day we headed off to Amalfi Coast in Furore, where we visited the Marisa Cuomo winery, awarded this year for the production of the second best wine in Italy, the Fiorduva 2014.
We were welcomed by Raffaella who introduced us to Marisa Cuomo and her husband Andrea Ferraioli, who were harvesting with passion, determination and above all love for their land. They posed an example for everyone.
In a location like Furore, which is so characteristic yet extreme at the same time, the vines and grapes are exposed to the magical action of the sun and sea of the Amalfi Coast and are mostly grow on pergolas, often planted in the vertically rock faces, and collected by hand.
Cantine Marisa Cuomo experiment with techniques that take over parts of the rock bed by building pergolas to support the vines and strictly selecting the best cultivation methods and only noble grape varieties like Falanghina and Aglianico, among others.
The wines of Cantine Marisa Cuomo age in an old wine cellar dug into the dolomitic-limestone rock: a fascinating, cool and damp place which houses French oak barriques. The selection of noble grapes, the search for the right degree of freshness and humidity, combined with the passage of time, old secrets handed down by the local winemakers and the advanced technology used by today’s wine technicians give life to wines of the finest quality, appreciated all over the world.