The best red wines from Campania
Viticulture in Campania is a serious and long-standing affair, so much so that its wines were already known in Ancient Rome. In this region, there are five areas where white grapevines and red grapevines are cultivated: Caserta, the area between Napoli and Ischia, Irpinia, Benevento, and Cilento. The most famous red wines from Campania are: Aglianico del Taburno, Taurasi, Tramonti Costa d’Amalfi, Vesuvio, and Campi Flegrei. The Aglianico del Taburno DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is an austere red wine that is ruby red tending towards garnet, with aromas of floral potpourri, ripe fruit, with a full, complex and long palate and a good tannic texture. Called “Hellenic” in the past due to its Greek origin, this grape variety is also cultivated in Basilicata and in other areas of Campania, so much so that the Taurasi DOCG also arose from Aglianico and is one of Campania’s best red wines of all time, produced in the Avellino province. Its name comes from the small wine-producing village that the Romans created in 80 BC, after defeating the Hirpini. Taurasi must be produced with a minimum of 85% Aglianico, plus other red grapes, and subjected to an ageing period of at least three years, one of which must be in wooden barrels.
Major red wine designations in Campania
Tramonti Costa d’Amalfi DOC is another interesting designation, this time in the Salerno province, made from Piedirosso (40%–60%) and Aglianico, plus other red grapes. We must mention Piedirosso because it is one of Campania’s native grape varieties, which is enjoying a certain amount of success after decades of neglect. This red grape is also cultivated in Lazio and Puglia, but its land of choice is Campania, where it is used in various blends including Sannio DOC, Campi Flegrei DOC, and Vesuvio DOC. Depending on the area, it is known by different names, including Pere’e palummo (pigeon’s foot) in the Ischia area, or Strepparossa (red foot) in Pozzuoli. In both cases, the names refer to the colour of the grape’s rachis and pedicel, which are reminiscent of the red hue of a pigeon’s foot. Campania Felix is also an area of volcanic wines with exceptional characteristics, in the Campi Flegrei and Vesuvio DOC zones. They are wines with mineral hints, a good, full flavour, and ageing potential.
Pairings with red wines from Campania
Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno are persuasive wines, rich in aromas and enveloping on the palate, which can accompany all meats, including both feathered and fur game. Want some examples? Aglianico del Taburno Rosso and the Riserva can be paired perfectly with white and red meats, with premium poultry, game, and even elaborate recipes. For example, they work well with the typical sausages and friarielli (broccoli rabe), which are so delicious that they make an irresistible pairing for an Aglianico Riserva, while an Aglianico Rosato reveals all its worth when accompanied by a dessert. Taurasi is excellent when served with dishes with pronounced aromas and is a good accompaniment for first courses with meat sauces, red meats, roasts, braised meats, poultry, game, and cheeses. If you want to leave the region, try Taurasi with a succulent braised meat or a goulash from Trento. When it comes to the Riserva version, this can be paired with slow-cooked red meats, game marinated and cooked in a casserole, and it is also excellent as a meditation wine.
More harmonious flavours and aromas
With Saltimbocca alla sorrentina, veal with a tomato sauce and cured meat, and with scialatielli alla paranza, a fresh pasta typical of the Amalfi coast with seafood, we stay in the area with a Tramonti Costa d’Amalfi DOC. This wine is very versatile and excellent with first courses with meat sauce and macaroni pie, but also with semi-mature cheeses, stewed white meats, pork chops, seafood salads, and grilled fish. With Neapolitan meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, you could opt for a volcanic red, like a Campi Flegrei DOC, which complements the full flavour of the dish, while a Vesuvio DOC would be a good choice with milza imbottita (spleen). This wine is also excellent when paired with polipetti alla Luciana (baby octopus) with a Vesuvius tomato sauce, or a classic Margherita pizza, a vegetable and potato soup, fried fish and roasted fish. Finally, an excellent Piedirosso, served slightly cooler, can accompany a sausage pizza but also pasta or rise-based dishes in a tomato or Bolognese sauce.