"I am a very energetic young man who strongly believes in the indigenous grape varieties of home, the Campi Flegrei region in Campania. This DOC, or designated vine growing region, and of which its flag bearers are the white Falanghina and the red Piedirosso, is right in the middle of Naples’ urban sprawl fighting a lost cause against speculation and real estate, making the vineyards of Chateau Haut Brion in the suburbs of Bordeaux look distinctively rural. You could call me a true city farmer.
My family owned Cantine Astroni estate, at which I am the winemaker, has its main vineyard clinging to a slope of one of the many craters surrounding the Etna, of which this particular one is called Astroni. The Astroni, which were used by the Romans as thermal baths, are now declared officially a WWF reserve, which has helped in halting any further urban developments threatening our vineyard’s survival.
The estate has been in our family hands for generations, held together by a strong conviction in the local grape varieties, but it was Me, who after working in Italy’s Northeast and Argentina, came back with new ideas and methods, igniting a whole range of modern wines, whilst still firmly based on tradition.
On of the first things I did when he became the family’s winemaker, was bring down the yields in the vineyard. The trellising system in the Astroni vineyard, called spaliera, is very high due to old school vine growing, where parallel trained double branches would accommodate Falanghina’s profusion, but I managed to reduced them to a single cane. It seems such simple intervention, but reducing abundance of fruit can come close to heresy in fiercely traditional agricultural communities
The crater provides the winery, which is right underneath the Astroni vineyard, with several natural advantage: it allows for total gravitational flow, so highly regarded in Bordeaux’ finest chateaux, but there cannot be executed without the aid of technology. As the celllar is underground, and the grapes harvested in the early morning hours, the bunches do not need to be chilled down before fermentation.
Together with my wife Emanuela, who provides me with marketing support as well as an ever open ear, I have embarked on several experiments in an effort to bring out the volcanic soils characteristics of my vineyards. One unusual method I employs is to ferment one of my top wines on the skins, and ages it in large oak casks. I started another experiment this year with the red Piedirosso, of which I destemmed the berries by hand, instead of using mechanical means. But it will take another 2 years to see the first results of this in the glass.
I am convinced that Falanghina has a good chance to find an international market if it is produced in a fashion that highlights its minerality, acidity and focused fruit. I also expect the red Piedirosso and Campania’s majestic red Aglianico to find a wider audience. An audience who is interested in looking further than Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay only. I thank Naked wines for this opportunity for you to try my wines!"
Combines innovation with tradition in Naples