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MWG March 8th tasting (1/5): Four Campanian whites

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While this was technically a Cellier tasting, only two bottles from the March 7th release made it into the wine-up: Mastroberardino’s Falanghina and Umani Ronchi’s Verdicchio.

All four wines in the first flight were made similarly: fermented (for a couple of weeks) and matured (for a few months) in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. If the estate favours organic farming, uses native yeasts and avoids manipulation, fining, filtering and sulphur dioxide in the winery, they certainly don’t trumpet it.

Greco di Tufo 2011, Mastroberardino ($22.10, 00411751)
100% Greco di Tufo from c. 15-year-old vines. 12.5% ABV.
Muted nose of lemon-lime and chalk. Smooth and rainwatery on the palate, with stealth acidity and a bitter undercurrent. Wax and pear flavours linger though the tingly finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2011, Mastroberardino ($19.20, 00972877)
100% Coda di Volpe from c. 20-year-old wines. 12.5% ABV.
Straw, pear, hot stones and something floral. Slightly denser than the Greco, drier, more savoury. High in acidity and lean on fruit. Lemon-pithy, minerally finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

IGT Irpinia 2011, Morabianca, Falanghina, Mastroberardino ($19.75, 11873026)
100% Falanghina from c. six-year-old vines. 13.5% ABV.
Fragrant nose: mostly lemon blossom with some faint candied pineapple and a whiff of what one taster pegged as “freezer ice.” Probably the driest of the four. Underripe stone fruit sprinkled with lemon juice and set on sea shells. Bitter, puckery finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Fiano di Avellino 2011, Mastroberardino ($22.10, 00972851)
100% Fiano di Avellino from c. 15-year-old vines. 12.5% ABV.
Lime leaf, green pear, sweet pumpkin, bath salts, hazelnut skins. Somewhat less acidic and bitter than the others but also more saline. Pear and a little honey. Sustained finish. Balanced and refreshing. (Buy again? Definite maybe.)

As a concept, this flight had enormous appeal: four mono-varietals from four different Campanian grape varieties from the same vintage and made in the same way (cleanly in stainless steel, with no interfering oak) by the same producer. In practice, the flight was a study in shadings more than colours. On the plus side, all the wines were technically flawless and quite drinkable. And yet a little more personality wouldn’t have been out of place. It’s not as if they have to be low on character: Feudi di San Gregorio’s Fianos, for example, have character in spades and Mastroberadino’s high-end bottlings may well too. But we don’t have access to those, do we? As it is, these impeccably made but somewhat nondescript whites will work as an aperitif or an accompaniment to simply prepared seafood.

Speaking of Feudi di San Gregorio, has the SAQ dropped their products from its catalogue? If so, it’s a shame. The monopoly’s current Campania selection is small and dominated by one producer (Mastroberardino) and by affordable but relatively insipid bottlings, especially on the white side. With more than 100 indigenous grape varieties and a couple of thousand producers, the region is a potential source of a wealth of authentic wines. Yet we’re limited to a handful of mostly innocuous reds and whites from an even smaller handful of producers. Why?

Written by carswell

March 15, 2013 at 11:04

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