VIGNE GUADAGNO

Avellino, Campania

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A theme is beginning to develop within the Mucci Imports portfolio, maybe you’ve taken notice. Many producers are brand new to the game, starting within the last 10 to 15 years. This isn’t a requirement of mine by any stretch, and I certainly love working with our more experienced winemakers.

However, working with such young producers offers the unique opportunity to grow together. A young producer is seemingly always willing to go to the extra mile for you, which is crucial in this incredibly complex industry of ours.

Vigne Guadagno is another young winery, founded in 2010 by two brothers Guiseppe and Pasquale, who hail originally from the Avellino. It’s been a dream of theirs to make wine in their home region, and after much sacrifice and hard work in the manufacturing sector, they are now able to make their dream a reality.

The brothers handed the reigns to my good friend Gennaro Reale of Vignaviva, who helped them select highly coveted vineyard sites to grow Greco di Tufo, Fiano and Aglianico. It’s worth noting how diverse the Avellino is in terms of soil, elevation, and microclimates. The perception is that all of these grapes are grown right alongside each other, but it is quite the contrary. In fact, driving from Santa Paolina (where Guadagno’s Greco di Tufo is planted) to Taurasi takes 30 minutes, and in the end it seems as though each wine grows on a different set of hills than the other. That being said, finding specific sites within the designated growing area of Greco, Fiano, and Aglianico was an essential aspect of getting Vigne Guadagno off to the right start.

Like many small producers starting out, Guadagno uses the cellars of fellow wine producers to make their wines. In fact, on my most recent trip there, I witnessed this unique camaraderie during harvest. There were several winemakers bringing in grapes to a winery called Antico Castello in the Avellino (who I’ve known for years) and destemming and pressing grapes one after the other. Antico Castello has a lovely winery with enough tanks to allow these producers to go through the winemaking process all there on site. Spending those few hours listening to the dialog amongst producers was priceless and extremely educational.

It’s hard to explain the potential for the wines of the Avellino without visiting. It’s a mountainous region that seems more like Alto Adige than it does Campania. Incredibly, Avellino is an hours drive from the Amalfi Coast!

In Tufo you have a layer of chalk, limestone and quartz over the famous “tufo” bedrock. This tufo is a soft volcanic substrate found a few meters underground. This first layer of chalk and limestone provides incredible minerality to the wines here. Another factor is the weather and elevation of course. Hot days turn quickly to cool nights and winters can be rough, not Boston rough, but still pretty extreme. Even on a warm day in Amalfi there can be a noticeable temperature drop, particularly during the Spring and Fall. Elevation in and around Tufo is in the ballpark of 400 to 600 meters. These are high elevation wines and people should start thinking of them that way!

Tasting Greco and Fiano from the tank (while fermenting or even a few months into the aging process) was like eating something spicy when you are not prepared for it. There is no spice (full disclosure) but you are hit with an incredible minerality that almost causes you to choke, like spice would. It was tasting this way where I could fully understand the potential for these wines.

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Greco di Tufo became a D.O.C.G. wine in 2003 and is arguably the least understood of Italy’s great wines. Greco di Tufo wines must consist of 85% Greco. There are just eight towns that make up this denomination, starting with the actual town of Tufo, which is the heart of this production zone.

Outside of Tufo there are several other cru sites where soil content, elevation and sun exposure all vary. One such site is Santa Paolina, where the vines of Vigne Guadagno lie. This property is no more than an hectare of extremely steep terrain. The vines seem to be hanging off the side of the mountain. The soil is the typical soil of tufo but with chunks of chalk mixed in along with layers clay and some veins of excreted sulfur. Historically the Avellino was full of sulfur mines and by the first World Wine this region was responsible for mining up to 5% of the worlds sulfur.

This vineyard is located at close to 450 meters. There are about 4,500 plants per hectare. Because of the extreme terrain everything has to be done by hand. The vineyard is about 30 years old but was rejuvenated once purchased by the Guadagno brothers. They changed the vine training system to Guyot and worked diligently to create a healthy vineyard site.

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Greco di Tufo

Varietal : Greco di Tufo 100%

Greco di Tufo is not known to have the aging potential of Fiano, but I tend to disagree. A few years down the road these wines are really starting to hit their stride and the rich fruit, acid and minerality the wine possesses in in check.

2013 was a warm vintage, so a rich, tropical fruit shows through here on this wine. Again, some time in the bottle has helped this wine as that fruit and acid is met with minerality and freshness to help balance out the wine.

This wine has weight and structure making it a nice companion to swordfish or fattier pieces of fish. Delicate plates like spaghetti with clams may be overwhelmed, I would lean more towards heartier pasta dishes with seafood or chicken.
The wine is harvested manually (in late September) and whole clusters and stems are thrown into the press. The wine is in contact with skins and stems in the hour on the press. The wine will then decant in stainless steel and eventually naturally clarify and undergo racking. From there a spontaneous fermentation occurs in temp. controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine then will age on it’s fine lees for 5 months and is bottle around the month of May. The wine will then spend about 6 months in bottle before release.
Contrada Sant’Aniello

Varietal : Fiano 100%

Contrada Sant’Aniello is arguably the top cru within Fiano di Avellino. Why? First off, you have sandy marls similar to what you find in Chapmagne the yield incredible minerality in the wines grown here. Secondly, vines here are found at about 500 meters of elevation, one of the highest sites for Fiano di Avellino.
This is a serious white that screams for complex seafood or poultry.
Natural fermentation with an hour or two of time on the skins due to the delicate press the grapes undergo. The ferment occurs at a controlled temperature that helps maintain aromas. From here the wine will age on the fine lees for 12 months. It is unfiltered and unfined going into the bottle as raw as it can.

Visit Vigne Guadagno’s Website

VISIT SITE