It’s difficult to choose the most beautiful region in Italy, but for those who have been there, Campania must surely rate at or near the top of their list. Located in southwestern Italy, this region has one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, and who could argue that if you’ve ever seen the Gulf of Napoli with Capri and Ischia island or the Amalfi Coast?
Italian wine history dates back centuries, as the Greeks colonized the southern reaches of the country and first planted vines there over 2000 years ago. Campania was their favored site; they termed the region as Campania Felix or ‘beautiful country.” (The word campagna in Italian means “country” or “countryside”). In fact, one of the most important white grapes still cultivated today is Greco, named appropriately enough for the early Greek settlers.
Greco is most famously grown in the province of Avellino, historically known as Irpinia, located inland some 30 miles east of Napoli and the sea. In and around the towns of Prata P.U. and of Tufo, named for the tufaceous soil, the wine is known as Greco di Tufo D.O.C.G. This is a dry white with aromas of lemon and pear with notes of almond and a light minerality in the finish. Many Campanian wines, both white and red, are described as having volcanic mineral flavors, which is due in large parts to the local soils, many of which have been altered by deposits of lava from Mount Vesuvius over the centuries. While there are several important white varieties in Campania, there are only a few red ones.
The primary grape in D.O.C.G. red is Aglianico, a derivation of the word “Hellenico” another name for Greece (again, this is a variety planted by the Greeks centuries ago). Aglianico produces wines that have deep ruby red color, aromas of ripe black cherries tinged with bitter chocolate and firm tannins.
Other value-oriented examples of Aglianico are the wines labeled as Irpinia Aglianico (DOC) or Campania Aglianico.
In many cases, these are wines from the Taurasi growing area that are 100% Aglianico that have not been aged the required four years before release to earn the Taurasi name. These wines share many of the same characteristics as Taurasi DOCG, one of the most famous red wine in Campania.
From geological point of view, the Territory Irpino is extraordinarily young. Just under 40,000 years ago (a moment, from the geological point of view) in the Campi Flegrei place it had a massive volcanic eruption, whose devastating effects were felt throughout the Mediterranean basin, particularly in the east, to which mainly the winds blew.
For days the winds also pushed towards the Irpinia clouds of tephra, glowing mixture of ash and lapilli. The sky darkened for months, the temperatures dropped abruptly, the fields were covered with a thick layer of volcanic material that gradually solidified.
In much of the Campania Region it was annihilated suddenly all forms of plant life, animal and human. The time taken from the environment to absorb the effects of the catastrophe would have been very long, perhaps thousands of years.
The Province of Avellino, while more than 50 kilometers away from the epicenter of the eruption, was among the areas hardest hit by the disaster. The volcanic products, the origin loose, which will be referred as a whole gray Campanian tuff, were deposited in large quantities in the depressions valleys, showering them to a height of ten meters.
The same volcanic products, having filled with their fluid mass and glowing valleys, is consolidating rapidly, becoming well-known in the tufa formations columnar gray, visible today in many parts of the Avellino Territory, as in Tufo and Prata di Principato Ultra municipalities.
The great mass of tufa, gradually consolidates, disrupts the existing drainage network. The surface water is collected in different streams at the foot of the new tufa. The waterways begin soon to affect the tufa, until you reach the underlying layer geological features of clay and therefore waterproof.