Galardi Roccamonfina Terra di Lavoro 2000
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Terra di Lavoro, first produced in 1994, has quickly established itself as one of Italy’s cult wines. I tasted all of these vintages with proprietors Arturo and Dora Celentano during their first visit to the US. The Celentanos have a huge passion for food and wine, and that exuberance comes through loud and clear in these fabulous wines. Terra di Lavoro is 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from vines planted by consulting oenologist Riccardo Cotarella beginning in 1991. The fruit is harvested according to ripeness rather than strictly by variety, which means that Aglianico and Piedirosso are sometimes picked and vinified together. After the alcoholic fermentation, the wines are racked into French oak where they remain on their lees for several months. Cotarella describes Aglianico as a hard grape to take through malolactic fermentation. He therefore believes it is essential for the final blend to be made before the wines go into malo. The final blend is assembled and undergoes what is usually a very slow malo, in steel for 80-90% of the wine, prior to being moved back into oak. There is little question that malolactic fermentation in stainless steel contributes significant freshness and aging potential to this heroic southern Italian wine.
The family-owned Galardi estate produces just one wine and it does so with perfection. Located on volcanic slopes in northwestern Campania, the vineyards are nestled among chestnut groves and benefit from Mediterranean Sea breezes. Terra di Lavoro actually means “land of work” in Italian, a name that has historical roots, but also accurately reflects the difficult volcanic soil composition which results in very low yields. In this challenging environment, Aglianico and its supporting grape Piedirosso produce wines of incredible depth, complexity and elegance.
Galardi is both concept and wine born out of the collective energy and shared vision of four cousins. Terro di Lavoro expresses the natural environment of Campania without parallel. The winery, named for the localita (area) Galardi, was created from scratch in 1991 when four cousins decided to produce wine from what was then a scant 0.5 hectare plot belonging to the family. The cousins, Maria Lusia Murena, Arturo and Dora Celentano, and Francesco Castello, shared a vision for producing a world class wine from Roccamonfina, an extinct volcano, 100 kilometers north and west of Campania's traditional quality zone of Taurasi. In 1993, the group requested the assistance of winemaking consultant Riccardo Cotarella, who had already achieved fame for his work with another Campanian estate: Montevetrano. The old rootstock was grafted over to high-quality cuttings of Aglianico and Piedirosso and in 1994, 600 bottles were produced and Galardi was born.
While picturesque hillsides, endless coastlines and a favorable climate serve to unify the grape-growing culture of this country. The apparent never-ending world of indigenous grape varieties gives Italy an unexampled charm and allure. From the steep inclines of the Alps to the sprawling, warm, coastal plains of the south, red grape varieties thrive throughout.
The kings of Italy, wines like Barolo and Barbaresco (made of Nebbiolo), and Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino (made of Sangiovese), as well as Amarone (mostly Corvina), play center stage for the most lauded, collected and cellar-worthy reds. Less popular but entirely deserving of as much praise are the wines made from Aglianico, Sagrantino and Nerello Mascalese.
For those accustomed to drinking New World reds, the south is the place to start. Grapes like Negroamaro or Primitvo from Puglia and Nero d’Avola from Sicily make soft, ammicable, full-bodied, fruit-dominant wines. Curious palates should be on the lookout for Cannonau, Lagrein, Teroldego, Ruché, Freisa, Cesanese, Schiopettino, Rossese and Gaglioppo to name a few.