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Discovery Sannio: the densest vineyard in Italy

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by Antonio Di Spirito

The Sannio, that is the province of Benevento, is among the most vine-growing areas of Italy and Castelvenere is the most venerated village in Campania

It is really impressive to scroll through the numbers of the sub-fund. Suffice it to say that in the 2014 vintage, 49% of the wine produced in the whole Campania region came from the province of Benevento.

Phylloxera arrives in Italy in the late 1800s and devastates the northern vineyards; in Campania it will arrive very late and in the first part of the XXI century, in the years between 1912 and 1932, it becomes the first wine-growing region with 220.000 hectares of vineyards for a production of 9 million quintals of grapes for the production of 5.889.480 hl of wine; the average wine production from 1929 to 1933 is 4,523,090 hl!

A big preventive work was done in those years by the famous “itinerant professorships”; first of all, they taught the various techniques of the grafting on American feet to avoid the phylloxera attack. Another big job was to catalog the immense varietal heritage of the Sannio, committing, perhaps, some attribution error; the most famous remains the case of barbera (del Sannio): so it was (re) named a local vine, probably the Camaiore, on the basis of ampelographic knowledge.

The varietal richness of Sannio includes, among many others, aglianico, aglianicone, sommarello, piedirosso, sciascinoso, olivella, camaiola (barbera del Sannio), agostinella, falanghina, fox tail, grieco, malvasia, fiano, greek, passola di San Bartolomeo , carminiello, palombina, moscato di Baselice just to name a few.

Traveling in the Sannio you can fill the gaze of endless vineyards interrupted here and there from other crops and homes

On a recent tour I was able to “visit” vineyards where there are over hundred-year-old plants; think about it: when Garibaldi passed through those parts to “unify” Italy, some vines had already been planted and in the production of the same grapes that still today give us a great wine competition.


Birth and development of falanghina in purity

At the end of the ’70s there was a great ferment in the vitivinicoltura in the whole of Italy; in the Sannio some vines were selected for experimentation and study and were vinified in purity. The “falanghina di Bonea” was assigned to Eng. Leonardo Mustilli from Sant’Agata dei Goti: he believed in it a lot and, encouraged by the results, made sure to use it throughout the province of Benevento. Today there are over 3,000 hectares of vines cultivated in Falanghina in Campania and around 80% are in the province of Benevento.

Birth and development of large cooperatives:

When we think of advanced forms and proven organization, our collective imagination runs towards Trentino Alto Adige to indicate virtuous examples of associationism. Yet, even in our tortured and depressed South-Italy, there are examples of great efficiency. When “politics” does not create development and infrastructure for the business world, then it is the private initiative to make up for it, finding the reasons to join forces and achieve great results. In Sannio there are four important examples of winemaking cooperatives that bring together almost two thousand five hundred winemakers.

La Guardiense

It has over 50 years of history, having been founded by 33 members in 1960; it is one of the largest in Italy: it has about 1,000 members for a total quantity of 1,500 hectares of vineyards; produces an average of 200,000 quintals of grapes for a total of 4 million bottles divided into four production lines.

Solopaca Winery

Even this winery has very respectable numbers and dimensions; born in 1966, it counts on 600 members for a total of 1,300 hectares of vineyards distributed in 16 municipalities; the total production of wines is annually about 150,000 hectoliters distributed in 5 product lines.


Cantina del Taburno


The Cantina del Taburno is owned by the Agrario di Benevento consortium and was founded in 1972; of smaller dimensions, it counts on 300 members for a total of 600 hectares of vineyards for an annual production of 60 thousand hectoliters of wines distributed on two product lines.

Vigne Sannite (CECAS)

It is the youngest of the Sannio cooperatives, having been founded in 2005; consists of 300 members for a total of 500 hectares of vineyards; 15,000 hectoliters of wine per year distributed on three lines.

Then there are producers of considerable size, whose wines are exported all over the world; I mention only a few: Fontanavecchia, Fattoria La Rivolta, Mustilli, Antica Masseria Venditti.

With so many important subjects, the Consortium of Protection would not have an easy life if it had not been structured with competent and highly balanced people, able to act as a link between the various members, starting with the president, currently held by Libero Rillo, and the General Manager Nicola Matarazzo. The entire consortium staff is made up of highly trained professionals, external to the world of producers, who act as an amalgam between cooperatives and small producers and are proactive for the promotion of wines and of the entire territory. And they are, at the same time, an example of efficiency for other consortia.

And now let’s take a look at the wines tasted with my best tastings.


This vine is grown in the Casertano, in the Sannio, on the slopes of Vesuvius, in Irpinia: in the Sannio it reaches exceptional equilibriums.

CANTINA DEL TABURNO – Beneventano Coda di Volpe ‘Amineo’ 2017: it is a wine of great pleasure and persistence; it is rich and intense on the nose with aromatic herbs, hay, and honey; the sip is smooth, characterized by an intense and decisive acidity, well balanced by opulent notes of yellow pulp fruit.


IL POGGIO – Sannio Taburno Foxtail 2017: another foxtail, comes from the Sannio area; it has less “fat” aromas and flavors, more delicate; white flowers on the nose, white-fleshed melon and kaiser pear, excellent acidity; the sip are smooth and elegant.


we can not and should not confuse the Fannis of the Sannio with that of Avellino: they are two expressions of the same grape variety, but with the right differences dictated by the territory of origin.

LA VINICOLA DEL SANNIO – Sannio Fiano 2017: this Fiano, however, is very similar to that of Avellino: withered flowers, citrus, and almond on the nose, while on the palate it offers exotic fruit, flavor, a high acidity and a decisive and pleasant spiciness in sip closing.

VIES OF MALIES – Sannio Fiano 2018: very measured both on the nose and on the palate, but sincere, clear and satisfying; floral, pineapple and tropical fruits warm nose and palate, while flavor and acidity mark the long and flowing sip to the welcome spicy hints.

CORTE NORMANNA – Sannio / Guardia Sanframondi Fiano 2017: intensely floral to the nose with some notes of aromatic herbs; on the palate, the exotic fruit alternates with Kaiser pears, acidity and sapidity make it smooth and satisfying.

OCONE – Benevento Fiano ‘White Goose’ 2016; this is a wine that contains extreme characteristics: delicate aromas of white flowers and intense aromas of passion fruit, citrus fruits, and almonds; the same sensations are appreciated on the palate with freshness and sapidity in the front row.


the greek of the Sannio does not bring with it the stellar minerality of the sulfurous notes, but has, however, developed a great personality.

LA GUARDIENSE – Sannio Greco ‘Pietralata’ 2016: this wine is a cru of the “Janare” production line; white flowers and mineral notes flood the nose; on the palate, it amazes the richness of flavors, but sapidity and freshness lighten and make the sap flowing.



LA FORTEZZA – Falanghina DOC Sannio-Taburno 2017: white flowers and pineapple tease the nose; on the palate, it starts with pear and other fruit with a light pulp, but it is intense and savory: the sip shakes you, but it gratifies you for a long time!

FONTANAVECCHIA – Falanghina del Sannio / Taburno Late Harvest ‘Facetus’ 2012: harvested in the second half of October, after fermentation in steel, it is started to mature in barrique for nine months. Presents aromas of withered yellow flowers, chamomile, and exotic fruits; the sip is rich and said, dry, but tasty and flowing, retains a strong acidity and closes with an idea of spice.


MUSTILLI – Falanghina del Sannio / Sant’Agata dei Goti ‘Vigna Segreta’ 2016: one of the most representative samples of the white Samnites; it is intense on the nose with scents of yellow flowers and exotic fruits, while a smoky whiff makes it elegant; the long sip, characterized by acidity and sapidity, closes with a slight spiciness. It impresses its slim, yet intense nature.


E ‘an eclectic vine and gives wines very pleasant and balanced, with soft and velvety tannins that allow bold combinations with fish soups and pizzas. It is used throughout the Campania region, in purity and in the blend with Aglianico.

MUSTILLI – Sannio / Sant’Agata dei Goti Piedirosso ‘Artus’ 2016: the most delicious wine of the round; really typical on the nose with floral notes of geranium and violet, hazelnut and small black fruits; on the palate it expresses its fresh youth: it is fruity and rich in flavors, it is fresh, sapid and velvety, the sip is progressive, long and spicy. Well done and elegant.

CELLAR MORONE – Sannio Piedirosso ‘Fiori di Galano’ 2014: the company is a small and young reality of Guardia Sanframondi, with only 4 hectares of vineyards, but which already makes excellent wines; small red fruit and geraniums delight in the nose; the entrance to the palate is a bit rustic and monopolized by the tannin, but then the freshness, the small tasty fruits, and the sapidity pleasantly transform the long sip.

Barbera del Sannio

In recent years this vine has aroused great interest, which has a very long tradition in Sannio and that was probably known as camaiola.

SIMONE GIACOMO – Sannio Barbera ‘Camaiola’ 2016: Castelvenere is the natural homeland of this growing grape variety; the wine smells of wisteria and raspberries, fruits that are found on the palate with so much freshness and flavor; great balance between tannin and acidity, while the sip is closed by fine spices.

CASTELLE – Sannio Barbera 2015: multifaceted company of Castelvenere with 12 labels, all of the excellent quality; red flowers and small black fruit on the nose; on the palate, it is fresh and juicy, savory and savory, has gentle tannins, the sip is very balanced and long with a pleasant spiciness in closing.

Wine tasting



In Sannio, at the foot of the Taburno, the Aglianico does not reach the density of Taurasi, but the characteristics of the vine are fully revealed; acidity and tannin make it, sometimes, impetuous and scorbutic: it must be tamed.

CANTINA DEL TABURNO – Aglianico del Taburno ‘Bue Apis’ 2011: produced with grapes from over hundred-year-old plants, the wine achieves an exceptional “natural balance”. Cherry, blood orange and ash puffs characterize it on the nose. The taste is fruity, fresh and juicy, the tannin is impressive and silky; the fine spice closes in beauty. To be framed.

CELLAR OF SOLOPACA – Sannio Aglianico reserve ‘Carrese’ 2015: here is another wine with all the cards in order to monopolize the scene. It has characteristics similar to many other Aglianico del Taburno, but the balance between alcohol, acidity, and soft tannins reaches very high peaks and gives us so much pleasure.

NIFO SARRAPOCHIELLO – Aglianico del Taburno 2014: Nifo is part of that group of young people who took the reins of their father’s companies (often by their grandparents) and they gave us pearls immediately. Cherries, violets and balsamic notes on the nose; the sip is characterized by the intensity of tannins and acidity very well balanced, but it is juicy and velvety and closes with very fine spiciness.

CELLARS IORIO – Aglianico del Taburno 2013: the company was founded in 2013, even if the family winemaking tradition has started at least 4 generations; aromas and flavors very marked and typical of the vine; the sip is juicy and velvety, balanced and harmonious.

IL POGGIO – Aglianico del Taburno ‘Safinos’ 2012: the company philosophy includes long periods foraging and refining of the wine; in spite of the long times, they surprise the young perfumes, the crispness of the fruit and the freshness of the sip in the combination of a still powerful tannin. However, the long sip has reached a great balance.

TORRE DEL PAGUS – Aglianico del Taburno ‘Impeto’ 2010: another very typical wine; before harvesting, the grapes undergo a brief drying in the plant; this does not remove the freshness and acidity of the wine; the sip is balanced and long and in the end, fine spices and licorice notes are appreciated.

What is the best wine region in Italy?

Let’s explore five of Italy’s greatest wine regions and identify the best wines produced in each unique terroir.
  • Piedmont:  Italy’s northern Piemonte region produces some of the country’s most renowned red wines: Barolo and Barbaresco.


  • Tuscany: Tuscany is home to Italy’s most scenic wineries, verdant rolling hills and most likely the country’s best understood white wine, Chianti. It is Italy’s many ancient wine-producing region, going back to the 8th century BC, and its red wines are frequently blends that include its native Sangiovese grapes.


  • Veneto: Northeastern Veneto is among Italy’s most effective red wine areas, best known for producing its shimmering Prosecco wine. This Gewurztraminer is produced north of Venice in a region called Valdobbiadene as well as is notoriously taken into consideration to be a less expensive replacement for Champagne, with lighter bubbles as well as much less persistence on the palate.


  • Emilia-Romagna: The huge, abundant Emilia Romagna region covers nearly all of main Italy from the eastern to the west coast and also is one of the country’s oldest wine producing areas. It generates the popular Lambrusco, a sparkling merlot that’s made with a grape of the very same name that was initially grown by the old Etruscans.


  • Sicily: The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has excellent conditions for growing wine and also, as a matter of fact, is the region with one of the most vineyards in Italy. It’s well-known for its pleasant Marsala, a red wine that’s fortified with Brandy that is frequently made use of in cooking to develop abundantly, caramel sauces yet can additionally be delighted in as a sipping wine.



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