Episode 15: Salvatore Avallone of Villa Matilde

Salvatore Avallone’s father created Villa Matilde in the 1960’s after spending over 10 years of painstaking research to locate and identify the few remaining grape vines of the original strain that made the famous Falernum wine of Roman times. His father, Francesco Paolo, was a lawyer, a lifelong student of the Roman Empire and a professor of Roman Law at the University of Naples. He and his friends from the Dept of Agriculture at the University of Naples conducted an “ampelographical” study of the vines in all the small farms in the Caserta region where the famed Falernum wines had been grown. But the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800’s had wiped out the vines - all but a very few. The friends discovered 15 vines - 10 red (Aglianico) and 5 white (Falanghina). With this small but precious start, the Avallone family embarked on a journey to create a modern expression of the greatest wine of ancient Rome, the Falerno del Massico.

In this episode Salvatore tells us about the history but also gives us a marvellous overview of the grapes of Campania, both red and white. His account of the differences between Aglianico from Taurasi, Benevento and Caserta (where Falerno wines come from) is very insightful and he also tells us why the white wines of Campania (Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano) are so exceptional.

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Episode 14: Greek Wine Renaissance

The wine scene in Greece is evolving fast. New energy and new investment is being poured in and a young generation of innovators is shaking up the birthplace of wine. In some cases the most exciting wines are coming from local varietals like Assyrtiko, Limniona, Xinomavro, Agiortiko and Malagouzia. These ancient varieties are getting a makeover. And the international market is finding that Greek wines have an exciting edge. For example, Assyrtiko from Santorini has become the standard bearer for the new wines of Greece and is opening doors with its amazing character and its modern international appeal. With music from Kostas Kalafatis, interviews with 7 wine business personalities and a tour of 5 or 6 different locations, this Episode is a bit of a Greek wine whirlwind.

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Episode 13: Tormaresca Estate with Maria Teresa Carlone

Tormaresca Estate and the great wines of Puglia. Maria Teresa Carlone tells us about the history of the estate and the grape varieties that are putting Castel del Monte and Puglia on the map. The wine of Puglia that is making a significant mark on the international stage. Changes in the perception of Puglian wine and increasing international recognition are gathering pace. Puglia is getting a lot of attention and few of the myriad wine cultures in Italy can match its combination of long history and sudden resurgence. Puglia combines grape varieties whose genetics are shrouded in ancient times, a wine producing history that is almost as old as that of Greece and a level of investment and energy that is almost unmatched in Italy. What is certain is that Puglia’s autoctonous grape varieties, including particularly Aglianico, Primitivo and Negroamaro, have a story to tell that is as piercing as the southern Italian sun.

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Episode 12: Marco de Corato of Rivera Guides Us Through Puglian Wine

Castel del Monte lies in the heart of Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy. Puglia is experiencing a wine renaissance and if there is a wine region within Puglia which best epitomizes the way this part of Italy can produce wines of exceptional refinement (despite Puglia’s long reputation as a producer of bulk wines) Castel del Monte is it. Geographically Castel del Monte has the advantage of rising altitude from the low plains of the coastal area and therefore cooler night-time temperatures and moderating breezes. But the climate is still one of extremes, with hot summer weather juxtaposed with potentially very harsh winter weather, and thus a need for skilful viticulture. What the winemakers in Castel del Monte have done, though, is harness a suite of very powerful indigenous grape varieties and thereby produce signature wines that are very much unique to this part of Italy.

Rivera Estate is the standard bearer for Castel del Monte wines and is one of the most prestigious of all Puglian wineries. Marco de Corato and his brother Sebastian currently run the estate. Marco and Rivera’s export manager, Raffaele lead us through an in-depth discussion of the wine varieties and the terroir of Castel del Monte and Puglia. If you get a chance to try their wines you will become an instant fan of Castel del Monte and Puglia!

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Craig Heschuk