Montevetrano Colli di Salerno 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Proprietress Silvia Imparato indulged in wine as a hobby until she decided to rebuild her family’s vineyards in Montevetrano, in the oft-underestimated region of Campania. She employed the skills of highly regarded winemaker Riccardo Cotarella and they have created an outstanding icon wine they decided to name Montevetrano. Montevetrano is a small zone in the hills near the commune of San Cipriano Picentino, not far from Salerno. Mountains surround the property, with the vineyards situated on gentle slopes facing south by southwest. The heart of the estate is a beautiful, ancient villa. In the first years of production the basement of the villa also served as the cellar. Now the wine is made and stored in a new modern cellar, built in 2000. Silvia and her friends use the old cellar for private vintages. Within a very short period of time her work with Cotarella has produced an absolute jewel in this location. Between the end of September and the start of October, Montevetrano first harvests the Merlot grape, followed by the Cabernet Sauvignon and finally the Aglianico. Fermentation initially occurs in steel vats for about 15 days, after which the wine is transferred to new barrels for 10-12 months. The process is traditional but also strictly controlled, guaranteeing proper refinement and a balanced maturation. The process also ensures the grapes retain the regional features typical of Montevetrano. Cotarella is particularly proud of this wine, being the very first icon wine he has made; he considers it the father of his reds.
A winemaking renaissance is underfoot in Campania as more and more small, artisan and family-run wineries redefine their style with vineyard improvements and cellar upgrades. The region boasts a cool Mediterranean climate with extreme coastal, as well as high elevation mountain terroirs. It is cooler than one might expect in Campania; the region usually sees some of the last harvest dates in Italy.
Just south of Mount Vesuvio, the volcanic and sandy soils create aromatic and fresh reds based on Piedirosso and whites, made from Coda di Volpe and Falanghina. Both reds and whites go by the name, Lacryma Christi, meaning the "tears of Christ." South of Mount Vesuvio, along the Amalfi Coast, the white varieties of Falanghina and Biancolella make fresh, flirty, mineral-driven whites, and the red Piedirosso and Sciasinoso vines, which cling to steeply terraced coastlines, make snappy and ripe red wines.
Farther inland, as hills become mountains, the limestone soil of Irpinia supports the whites Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina and Greco di Tufo as well as the most-respected red of the south, Aglianico. Here the best and most age-worthy examples come from Taurasi.
Farther north and inland near the city of Benevento, the Taburno region also produces Aglianico of note—called Aglianico del Taburno—on alluvial soils. While not boasting the same heft as Taurasi, these are also reliable components of any cellar.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.