One of the vinous highlights of John’s trip last year to Southern Italy was tasting the fine wines of Feudi di San Gregorio, so this year we’re bringing them in! Feudi di San Gregorio was first established in 1986, yet despite its relatively short history, it has established an enviable reputation as one of Italy’s finest, most innovative, and critically acclaimed producers.
Although Feudi was established less than 30 years ago, the area in which their vineyards are based, the Irpinia region of Campania in Southern Italy, has a much longer history. Records indicate that vines have been grown here since at least 590 AD. The area is home to some of Italy’s most unique volcanic terroir and ancient grape varieties. It was these attributes that Feudi di San Gregorio set out to promote, almost single-handedly pioneering a renaissance in Southern Italian winemaking. A skilful blend of contemporary and traditional viticulture and winemaking techniques is applied to indigenous varieties such as Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina and Aglianico.
It is these unique grape varieties upon which Feudi’s reputation is based. Originally, 30 hectares of vines were planted by husband and wife owners, Enzo Ercolino and Mirella Capaldo. The estate has since expanded to around 270 hectares and in 2004 a new, state of the art winery was built. Ricardo Cotarella, Italy’s most respected consultant winemakers, oversees the production. They produce a multitude of wines from several varieties but are most well known for their highly regarded white Greco di Tufo DOCG, Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina del Sannio DOC, and red Taurasi DOCG and ‘Serpico’, both made from Aglianico.
Greco di Tufo was elevated to DOCG status in 2003 and is Campania’s largest producer of DOC quality wine. The soils of the region are composed of tuff, a rock formed from the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius, which Feudi believes imparts the wines with their distinct mineral character and freshness.
Feudi di San Gregorio produce two cuvees of pure Greco di Tufo. The regular cuvee is one of the best in the region generally showing aromatic notes of peach, pear and almond with a distinct minerally streak. The top-tier ‘Cutizzi’ Greco di Tufo is made from a selection of the best grapes, with the inclusion of a small amount of late-harvested grapes adding additional richness and complexity.
The Fiano grape was in danger of extinction throughout most of the 20th Century, it’s low yields combined with thick skinned berries that give little juice making it a less economical variety to grow. Along with other wineries dedicated to preserving Campania’s grape legacy such as Mastroberardino, Feudi di San Gregorio helped to reverse the decline in Fiano’s popularity. Along with Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino was elevated to DOCG status in 2003.
Fiano wines are fairly weighty with aromas and flavours of honey and spice. From a good vintage, Fiano di Avellino has potential to age beautifully in bottle, developing complex nutty and spicy notes. Feudi produce two cuvees, a regular Fiano di Avellino and the top ‘Pietracalda’ which like the ‘Cutizzi’ sees the addition of some later-harvested fruit and also lees-stirring to develop weight and complexity.
Falanghina, a variety not indigenous to Irpinia, but typical of neighbouring Campania regions was a later addition to the Feudi line-up. An ancient variety, Falanghina was appreciated by the Romans and produces perfumed, fresh, floral wines. Again, Feudi di San Gregorio produce two versions, a regular cuvee and the deluxe ‘Serrocielo’ from a selection of the best grapes.
Feudi di San Gregorio’s most highly-regarded reds are made from Aglianico, the most important fine red wine grape in Southern Italy. Their ‘Rubrato’ offers a fresh, youthful expression of the variety with juicy black fruit and licorice flavours. Their Taurasi DOCG is widely considered the best example made and is one of the finest reds of Italy. Their prestige cuvee ‘Serpico’ is also extremely well-regarded , crafted from grapes grown on century-old Aglianico vines in the heart of the Taurasi zone.