Beautiful Wines, From Beautiful Grapes

When asked about the vision of her winery, Ilaria Petitto, managing director of Donnachiara winery, responds; To make beautiful wines, you must have beautiful grapes.” Donnachiara may only be twelve years old, and in relative terms a smaller winery producing 12,500 cases, but I think they are going to be a winery to winelovers will begin see more often and becoming a household name. 

My Introduction

In early October I received an email from another #WinePW member, Susannah Gold asking if I would be available for an afternoon chat about an Italian winery she was working with. The stars must have been aligned, because it is a rare afternoon that I am free at 3pm. But as I looked at my trusty iPhone calendar, low and behold there was nothing on that day. 

Located in Montefalcione, Italy, Donnachiara winery produces three DOCG wines of Irpinia; Fiano di Avellino,Taurasi and Greco di Tufo. They also produce DOC wines of Aglianico, Falanghina, and Coda di Volpe. I don’t know about you, but those are a lot of grape terms I have never had or even heard of! Immediately I began thinking these are great topics for Winephabet Street

Let’s Talk Location

Montefalcione, known for Aglianico di Taurasi and Fiano di Avellinio, is a residential area surrounded by agriculture including fruit trees, cereals, olives and of course grapes! (and apparently a water source that treats kidney problems – but I did not go down that rabbit hole) 

A commune within Irpinia, Italy, the region is mostly mountains, as well as hills and valleys that lie on limestone and sandstone soils. Centrally located on the Apennines that run from Sella Di Ariano to the Sele River with the Picentini Mountains to the south, the Ofanto valley to the east and San Pietro lake to the north. 

Montefalcione is rich in history. Through archaeological finds the history can be traced to the Etruscans, Smanites and the Romans.  You can even see an actual castle on the highest point, that was an important site during the Lombards and Normans conflicts.

Donnachiara is a family owned artisan winery. For five generations they have focused

photo: Donnachiara

on quality. Strict attention to the minute details of the winemaking process, Donnachiara focuses on terroir. A true blend of art and science. Using science to learn about the climate and chemical analysis of the fruit, the team provides a perfect environment for the fruit to excel and are extremely environmentally conscious, Donnachiara uses solar power and uses recycled water. 

 

Let’s Talk Wine

Let’s start off with the fact that Donnachiara’s Aglianico was name #71 in the Top 100 Wines by Wine Spectator and their Greco di Tufo was named to the 2018 Trebicchieri list. Next let’s talk about price. The 90 rated Aglianico and 92 rated Greco di Tufo can be found in most wine retail stores for under $15!  

Unfortunately, I have never visited Campania, but it is definitely on my bucket list. During the chat I joked that I wouldn’t mind being adopted by a family there so that I could visit and see the area not as a tourist. (maybe I wasn’t joking- so if anyone out there is looking for a new relative… just saying!) Aside from its uncontested beauty, the region is known for producing exceptional wines, both white and red. 

In the white realm, the most well-known wines include Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, while for the reds, Piedirosso, which means “red feet” and Aglianico claim this prestigious spot. Campania’s most famous red, Taurasi, which is known as the “Barolo of the South,” is made from the Aglianico grape. A nickname that is more relative to the aging ability rather than the tasting profile. 

I was honored to receive the 2017 Greco di Tufo DOCG and a bottle of 2012 Taurasi DOCG Riserva (SRP $40). I had never had a Greco prior to this chat, but I have had Aglianico, albeit never from the Taurasi DOCG, so I was extremely excited to try both wines. I am a fan of Aglianico, although it can be a “beast” sometimes, there are many producers, like Donnachiara that have found a way to tame it just enough to make it an easily approachable, but multi-dimensional wine. 

Dracaena Wines

Greco di Tufo is a DOCG located in Campania, southern Italy. One of the most prestigious white grape varieties in Italy, it is a clone of Greco Bianco and is thought to be brought to the region by the Greek. The term Tufo is a tribute to the type of rock that the village is built upon. Not to be confused with the limestone tufa, these tuffs were produced when volcanic ash becomes compacted. 

In order to be called Taurasi, the wine must be aged for a minimum of four years prior to release. Unlike the Greco di Tufo, that tastes best within the first three years, Taurasi is meant to age. You can lay these bottles down for anywhere between 10 and 15 years and it has been suggested that the top quality Taurasi can withstand up to forty years of storage. 

Hungry?

During our chat, David of CookingChat, posted a photo of a dish that he made, and I immediately began to crave it. I told him I was going to have to make it. After the chat, I ran to the store to some ingredients and true to my word, I made pasta with fresh mozzarella, sausage and basil. It was a delightful pairing.  


If you are looking for a pairing for the Taurasi? Donnachiara suggests pasta with full body sauces, steak, game (wild, deer, boar, etc.) and long aging cheese
To find out more about Donnachiara wines, please visit their website.

~Sláinte!

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