Over 3000 years ago, on the lavic, mineral-rich slopes near Mount Massico and the volcano of Roccamonfina, Greek settlers reinvented viticulture, adjusting cultivation methods to the climate and soil of their adoptive home. Where vine shoots had originally laid directly on the ground, it was in northwestern Campania they were first supported by wooden poles (falanga) above the soil. The resulting wine was to become the "immortal Falerno" sung by the great poets of ancient Rome. (The name, incidentally, comes from "falanga" rather than a particular variety: the varieties themselves being three, both white and red.)
In the 1950s and early 1960s, a successful lawyer named Francesco Paolo Avallone set out on a unique mission: bringing this favorite of emperors back to life. In synergy with the University of Naples, his research team found the best surviving vines and patiently grafted cuttings onto new rootstock. Decades of inspired and dedicated work ultimately bore splendid fruit: 20 original clones of Aglianico, Piedirosso (both red) and Falanghina (white), trademarked as Villa Matilde. Since the estate's first official vintage in 1976, these exclusive Villa Matilde clones have incarnated a red Falerno del Massico and its white brethren, direct descendants of those wines celebrated by Virgil and Horace.
All wines are nurtured by the unique microclimate and soil of Villa Matilde: volcanic, mineral-rich hills facing the Mediterranean sun and the sea (just minutes from the gorgeous Gulf of Gaeta), sheltered on three sides by the Massico mountain range. The range - covering no less than 95% of the appellation's entire production of Falerno del Massico! - is styled by Riccardo Cotarella with the founder's son and daughter, Salvatore "Tani" and Maria Ida Avallone.
The property's 173 acres under vine are divided into two farmsteads: Tenuta di San Castrese and Tenuta di Parco Nuovo, closer to the coast. Terrain on the former is a composition of lapilli, lava stone, piroclastic material, ash, and a particular, friable rock (locally called Tassone). Parco Nuovo, on the other hand, as coastal soil is mainly sandy, rich in iron silicates, potassium and phosphorus - best suited to the white Falanghina and other native grapes destined for future production. The principal estate, moreover, is flanked by properties in the Benevento and Avellino districts - respectively Rocca dei Leoni and Tenute di Altavilla.
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