Do White Wines Age Well? Two Women Winemakers Tell Us Just How Well Those from Campania Do!

Italy is full of fine winemaking regions and Campania, in the Southern part of the country, is among them. Over 100 indigenous varietals are cultivated in Campania and it is here in Campania that Italian white varietals like Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo flourish under the watchful eye and patient hands of Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara and Teresa Bruno of Petilia & Solina, two winemakers who have helped to shape the distinctive flavor of their vineyards and regions.

Donnachiara, comprising 27 hectares of vineyards located across three D.O.C.G. zones in Irpinia, is named after Chiara, the winery’s matriarch, who entrusted the vineyard to her daughter Ilaria, in 2005. Ilaria renovated the chateau and updated its wine making methods. Ilaria and Italian winemaker, Riccardo Cotarella, are jointly responsible for creating wines that reflect both the terroir and Donnachiara’s unique identity. Care is taken to minimize the use of mechanical intervention at the winery’s Montefalcione and Torre le Nocelle locations. The vineyard has been producing wines for 150 years and counting. Its soil is ideal for cultivating indigenous Italian grapes such as the red varietal Aglianico in addition to Fiano and Greco di Tufo. Fiano is used to make Fiano di Avellino. Fiano is grown on clay soil and is harvested after the second week of October. It is characterized by soft acidity, elegant floral and honeysuckle aromas and bright orchard fruit, herbaceous and mineral notes that grow deeper and more complex with time.

Teresa Bruno of Petilia & Solina has been making wine with her brother Roberto for two decades. The siblings also produce Fiano di Avellino D.O.C.G. and Taurasi D.O.C.G. on their 30 hectares of vineyards. Grapes used for making whites and rose’s at Petilia & Solina are hand harvested, pressed with their stems attached, fermented for 3 weeks at 45 to 50 degrees (F) in stainless steel. This ensures that the resulting wines retain their natural floral and bright fruit-driven quality as well as their inherent crispness and fresh acidity. The Greeks brought Greco di Tufo with them when they settled at Altavilla in Southern Italy over a 1000 years ago. Greco di Tufo was also the first varietal to be planted on the Petilia & Solina estate.

Greco di Tufo is grown on mineral and sulfur-rich clay and volcanic soil. The grapes are harvested in the second week of October. The wine is aged for up to 4 months in bottles. It has bright acidity, and floral, mineral and balsam aromas, and fresh lemon, green apple and apricot notes that become richer and more concentrated when aged.

On October 7, 2019, Ilaria Petitto and Teresa Bruno gave members of the media an opportunity to sample some of their finest vintages at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in New York City. The wines from Campania paired seamlessly with the four course Southern Italian meal.

Three Fiano di Avellino D.O.C.G. — 2013, 2009 and 2007 — demonstrated the aging potential and the resulting evolving flavor profile of the Fiano grape.

The 2013 showed fresh and crisp acidity, floral, nutty and tropical fruit aromas, and citrus fruit, green apple and pineapple notes.

The 2009 was dominated by peach, apricot and menthol aromas, and ripe tropical fruit, sandalwood and herbaceous notes.

The 2007 exhibited delicate orchard fruit, mint and honey aromas, lemon, green apple and tropical fruit notes, and an elegant and silky finish.

Three Greco di Tufo D.O.C.G. from Petilia & Solina — 2015, 2014 and 2009 — also showed great adaptability to aging.

The 2015 was characterized by fresh acidity, peach, apricot and chamomile aromas, and bright citrus fruit, papaya and mineral notes.

The 2014 retained good acidity, and exhibited white flower, citrus fruit and honey aromas, and ripe tropical fruit, as well as mineral and herbaceous notes.

The 2009 showed soft acidity, lovely floral and honeyed fruit aromas, and ripe lemon, papaya and pineapple notes.

Fiano di Avellino that are aged and those that are crafted from grapes harvested later in the season can exhibit elements of sandalwood, petrol and spiced honey. Meanwhile an aged Greco di Tufo might develop deeper floral and acacia aromas, and a more concentrated fruit- and-mineral-driven character, while maintaining its refreshing acidity. Both the Fiano di Avellino and the Greco di Tufo are beautiful in their own ways much like the winemakers who produced them.

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