Southern Italy is the birthplace of some of the most internationally recognized cuisine, as well as an astounding variety of wines. These wines cab be obscure to most and infamous to others, but should be as well known and enjoyed as the cuisine. Have you have ever enjoyed a pizza, delighted in the freshness of Mozzarella di Bufala with basil, or worked up the courage to create your own tomato sauce with San Marzano tomatoes? This is the cuisine of southern Italy, but what about the wines?

The wine regions of Southern Italy begin just south of the Lazio, in the region of Campania around the city of Naples. Campania is an area rich in archeological curiosities and delicious wines. White wines include the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (or DOCG, the highest classification for Italian wines) of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. Greco, a light, peachy and refreshingly aromatic grape, is produced at higher altitudes further inland towards the center of the Campania region. It comprises 85% of the blend in Greco di Tufo DOCG. Fiano is a more full-bodied grape, full of character and leads with 85% of the blend in the Fiano di Avellino DOCG. Both wines pick up a slightly smoky expression to their minerality, which is said to come from the volcanic soils in which they grow.

However, none express this volcanic character more than the wines from the Vesuvio DOC. On the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, once torn asunder during the tragedy of Pompeii, grow Falanghina grapes that provide aromatic appeal to one of the blends that constitutes the Vesuvio DOC. Red grapes called Piedirosso and Aglianico (the Barolo of the south) can also be found here producing world class wines. If a wine from Vesuvio reaches a minimum of 12% alcohol, it has the option to be labeled “Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio”. The name Lacryma Christi translates to “Tears of Christ” and is enshrouded by various legends; legends which will be unveiled during this October’s From Vine to Wine class.

Continuing south from Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Apulia form what is known as Italy’s boot. Calabria is the steel toe of the Italian boot. This mountainous region produces mysterious wines, once famous during the Middle Ages and into the ancient past. Basilicata is home to the newly promoted DOCG Aglianico del Vulture Superiore, which represents the finest expression of the Aglianico grape. The heel of Italy’s boot is the region of Apulia. Unlike its neighboring regions, Apulia has vast plains, low rolling hills, and very fertile soil. Amongst Apulia’s collection of DOC’s and DOCG’s is the infamous Primitivo di Manduria. There are some that have claimed Primitivo to be the true and original Zinfandel. However, is the Primitivo grape truely the same grape we know as Zinfandel?

Find out during From Vine to Wine this October 16th and 17th to taste (the best part) and discover the legends, riddles and treasures of Southern Italian wines.


Gregory Astudillo

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