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Just In from Campania

Terre Del Vescovo

by Anthony Lynch

Buy this collection (4 bottles)

$101.00
Just In from Campania - Anthony Lynch
Just In from Campania - Anthony Lynch

The verdant hillsides of Irpinia, the mountainous province an hour’s drive inland of bustling Napoli, are home to one of Italy’s greatest and most ancient wine traditions. It is here that the noble Aglianico grape, cultivated for centuries and prized since Roman times for its superlative quality, produces the crown jewel of southern Italian viticulture: the profound, commanding, mystifying, one-of-a-kind Taurasi DOCG.
     Until a recent renaissance, however, very few estates produced and bottled this storied appellation. Small family farms in these remote hills traditionally grew grapes, among other crops, but only in the last fifteen years has estate bottling become more widespread. For many decades, the only winery to commercialize Taurasi in bottle was Antonio Mastroberardino’s eponymous estate. Restructured in the post-WWII era, Mastroberardino would go on to produce Taurasi of legendary complexity and longevity from carefully selected grapes purchased from small growers throughout the region. These soulful reds ultimately put Campania on the map as a serious wine-producing region, proving that Aglianico from Irpinia’s best terroirs could be as grandiose as anything made in Italy’s top appellations.
     But Signor Mastroberardino did not act alone. Giovanni Molettieri worked by his side for many years through the 1960s and ’70s, seeking out quality vineyard sites and brokering deals with local farmers for their fruit. In doing so, he not only secured the best provenance from the area’s finest terroirs for Mastroberardino’s final blend, but he assured the survival of many a contadino dependent upon these contracts to make a living off their grapes.
     Eventually, Molettieri set out on his own, choosing to focus his efforts on a small vineyard in the commune of Montemarano, which had been in the family for generations. His grandfather had farmed this very site, shipping bulk wine on the ferrovia del vino (wine railroad) to phylloxera-devastated France and northern Italy around the turn of the twentieth century. Having observed the genesis of many great vintages of Taurasi in his time with Mastroberardino, he had picked up key pointers to vinifying the hardy, rustic Aglianico grape, aging the wine in large casks for as long as necessary until he deemed it ready for bottling. Giovanni Molettieri released his first Taurasi under his own label in 1982.
     In 2005, Giovanni’s daughter, Giuseppa, took over management of the family vineyards. “Growing up, I was always around wine and often helped the family. I remember my parents telling me, ‘No school this week! It’s harvest.’ ” Giuseppa’s brother worked for several years alongside their father, but when he lost interest, she chose to pick up the pieces. “First, I tried doing things my own way. Then, I realized my father always knew best!” Nearing ninety years old, papà can still be found ambling about the vineyards and winery, watching over as Giuseppa carries forth the family legacy crafting stately, chiseled Aglianico from the high-altitude limestone slopes of Montemarano.
     Giuseppa bottles under a new label to differentiate her wines from the many other Molettieris of Montemarano, choosing instead to honor the town’s patron saint (Vescovo), but not much else has changed since her father’s inaugural vintage. She farms her four hectares without herbicides, using the traditional high pergola training system to protect the grapes from the meridional sun and ensure freshness in the wines. Crucially, she ages her reds for several years in neutral wood until Aglianico’s assertive tannins have reached a velvety apogee. At our request, she has bottled everything unfiltered, preserving vital pulp and fleshiness in reds known for being rather austere. Given their rich character and undeniable authenticity, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that each bottle from Terre del Vescovo contains a taste of Campanian wine history.





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Warnings


Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol


Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa