Deep in Campania’s mountainous interior, amid hazelnut groves and dense, lush woodland, small vineyard plots dot the rolling landscape. Here in rural southern Italy, an ancient history of viticulture lives on through the hands of small-scale farmers, proud custodians of this land upholding centuries of a tradition shared with the Greeks, Romans, and countless others. Home to what has been dubbed “the Barolo of the South,” the green haven known as Irpinia, an hour’s drive east of Napoli, features the noble Aglianico grape at its grandest. Indeed, the Taurasi appellation is the south’s answer to the great reds of Piedmont or Tuscany, where grape variety and outstanding terroir come together to give immense potential through the labor of dedicated local artisans. Terre del Vescovo is a 4-hectare property in Montemarano, a top cru of the Taurasi zone, where the appellation’s highest-elevation sites yield chiseled, mineral, age-worthy reds. At up to 600 meters above sea level on soils of clay and limestone, the vines benefit from significant diurnal temperature shifts crucial to developing complex, well-defined flavors and preserving freshness at this southerly latitude. Thanks to its slow maturation, the late-ripening Aglianico is harvested in November, sometimes under a blanket of snow. Giuseppa Molettieri cultivates these vineyards—many of them more than sixty years old—with her husband, Luigi, intent on preserving the tradition established by her father, Giovanni. He was the first of several generations of farmers in the family to bottle his wine and gain recognition for his Taurasi, and he watches over the vines and cellar to this day. “My enologist works with just one azienda,” declares Giuseppa, “because he is my father!” Her reliance on traditional methods passed down from previous generations lies in stark contrast with the trend of consulting enologists who standardize a number of the region’s wines. Giuseppa and Luigi bottle small amounts of perfumed, textural Coda di Volpe for everyday refreshment, but their main focus is Aglianico. All three reds in the lineup are aged in enormous old botti—the Taurasi for up to four years, then several more in bottle before release. A beautiful marriage of deep, nuanced aromatics, high-toned acidity, and dense, velvety, fine-grained tannins, Terre del Vescovo’s wines embody the finest of Irpinia’s tradizione contadina.
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