Updated: May 15
The Authentic Irpinia Wine Club brought to you with Schneider's of Capitol Hill
Spotlight: Natural Wines
Lately it seems you can’t look at a wine list or talk to anyone in wine without being hyped up on the benefits of natural wine. By and large I agree wines where chemicals aren’t being added are better than those when the producer is putting god knows what in your fermented grapes.
Less intervention is better, which is why I hand select the artisanal wines sent in wineclub only after getting to know the winemakers and how they work in the vineyard and in their cantinas. That’s the key to great wines. (Read my take on natural wines by clicking here.)
That said, I figured it was time you had the chance to try some more of my favorite “natural wines” from around Campania to see for yourself. You’ve already tasted natural wines from other Irpinia producers in the past, including Il Cancelliere, Azienda Agricola Boccella, Cantina del Barone, Cantine dell’Angelo, and La Cantina di Enza.
What’s new: this shipment includes two bottles from friends in Cilento. While I want you to always love Irpinia first and foremost, I want you to also know quality winemakers from around Italy.
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Bring Irpinia to your Home
As we all anxiously await the reopening of Europe, you can always bring Italy direct to your door with online cooking classes with Michelin recognized chefs and wine tastings with Irpinia winemakers. Email me to learn more!
Here’s a little more on the wines and wineries you’re meeting in this shipment.
Tenuta Vincenzo Nardone:
The Nardone family has been crafting wines since 1810, and the winery was “officially” founded in 1908 by the great grandfather of current winemaker Nicola Nardone, who took over in the cantina 8 years ago. I met Nicola right after the lockdown last year and immediately fell in love with his wines and his approach to winemaking. Nicola, affectionately known by all as Pupo, is a self taught winemaker, using grape growing traditions that date back centuries and is exclusively focused on crafting wines that bring out the flavors of the grapes from the year in which they were grown.
He tastes his wines nearly every day, to attend to the needs and wants of his wines. He says you need to find the synergy in everything, not just wine, and I couldn’t agree more. Pupo is widely regarded as the future of winemaking in Irpinia.
Irpinia Aglianico 2015: Right off the bat, you’ll notice the beautiful deep cherry color in your glass, the amazing smells that bring you directly to a warm summer day in the vineyard with a cherry, strawberry and raspberry mix that balances the big tannins, acidity and alcohol of this easy drinking but complex wine. Nothing has been added to this wine in the winemaking process aside from the love Pupo imparts on his wines at ever stage of their crafting. Pair with just about anything you can think of anytime of day.
Campania Greco: Don’t be fooled by the nose on this wine all soft and floral, kind of like a spring Monet painting. Once you take your first sip, you’ll see this wine is like a fresh winter breeze hitting your face, with hints of lemon and a longevity that goes on forever, begging you to take the next sip. It’s a balanced wine made from Irpinia’s Greco grapes featuring the signature minerality you’ve come to expect from this variety.
Pupo wants you to know weather conditions in 2018 resulted in an early vendemmia, nearly 10 days in advance of the normal time, so you’ll see it’s lighter in color than other vintages of the same wine. The wine spent 16 months aging in steel with a minimal intervention philosophy of winemaking. According to Pupo, you can leave this in your fridge after opening and drink for an additional 30 days. I’ve never had a bottle last longer than a few hours open. But I’m going to try one day. I promise. Drink this with brie, oysters, or pizza with artichokes.
This winery is led by the founders of the natural wine movement not just in Irpinia, but across Italy. I’d first met Daniela and Antonio De Gruttola in the fall of 2019 at Antica Trattoria Di Pietro through Chef Anita, learning the tall and lanky grey haired Antonio along with his wife, Daniela, who could fit neatly under his arm with short dark hair and the energy of a thousand Energizer Bunnies had founded their winery 20 years ago with an idea that wine could be made differently than how so many were doing. Today their winery exists in 3 or 4 different small structures around Ariano Irpinia as they’ve expanded, and they’re crafting 25+ unique wines every year.