Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Donnachiara Wines Pair Modernity, Tradition In Southern Italy

Donnachiara Taurasi and AletheiaMezzogiorno, or Southern Italy, is the home of incredible wines sometimes overlooked by wine lovers.

3,000 Years Strong

Don’t make this big mistake with Italian wine. Italy is a large, wonderful country flowing with wine. Don’t overlook the southern part of the country.

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While Tuscany and Piedmont offer many glittering wine jewels, there are plenty of  gems to be mined in the southern part of “the boot.” We had a chance to explore some of these great wines as the Wine Studio education program hosted Ilaria Petitto, the CEO of Donnachiara Winery, in a recent Zoom chat.

Donnachiara is located on the slopes of Montefalcione in Calabria. Their steep vineyards are surrounded by  green hills dotted with ancient villages and the beautiful mountains of Montevergine and Chiusano. The winery debuted in 2005 and has almost all female management. Although modern in all regards, Petitto brings five generations of family wine experience to the operation.

Aletheia GrecoWine has been made in southern Italy for more than 3,000 years. Ancient winemaking here benefitted from the knowledge of Greek colonists, who brought new grape varieties and new methods of vine cultivation. The Greeks were so impressed with how their vines grew in their new home that they christened Italy “Enotria” or “Land of the Vine.”

Much of the wine made in southern Italy is made for the bulk market and far outweighs the output of the DOCG (Italy’s highest quality designation) appellations. However, the DOCG wines from the south are distinct, beautiful, and worth seeking out. Donnachiara produces three DOCG wines – Fiano di Avellino, Taurasi, and Greco di Tufo, as well as the traditional Aglianico and Falanghina wines.

Prizes From Mezzogiorno

Winemaking in Campania is not for the faint of heart. “The biggest challenge is that you are working with nature and you can’t control the weather,” said Petitto. “We have to worry about hail and tropical storms. The weather is also changing and our qualities are small.” We were able to taste the 2016 Taurasi DOCG and the 2018 Aletheia Greco di Tufo DOCG.

Donnachiara Taurasi & Eggplant Parmesan

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The Aletheia is 100% Greco di Tufo, the most prestigious white wine in the southern Italian region of Campania. This is a limited production wine, with only 3,300 numbered bottles produced. This is one of the best sellers for Donnachiara. Petitto says this is a wine that improves with aging.

We paired the Greco with a shrimp appetizer and the flavors were perfect. This is a flowing and elegant wine with pineapple and peach notes with touch of cinnamon. The bottle label has a fascinating word cloud with Italian and English words such as unveiling, sincerity and revelation – nice descriptors for a unique wine.

The Taurasi accompanied our main course of eggplant parmesan. The wine is 100% Aglianico, the most important red grape in the region. The wine is considered the southern Italian equivalent of Barolo and Barbaresco – although the styles of wine are very different. This wine gets 12 months of aging in French oak barriques.

Powerful yet supple the Donnachiara Taurasi has layers of  blackberry, plum, mocha and tobacco. Taurasi is known for being tannic but we found a very balanced wine. Although big and bold, it was smooth like rumbling thunder heard in the distance.

Donnachiara is crafting ancient grapes into wine with modern appeal and sensibility. Cross the border into southern Italy and enjoy some of these wonderful gems. You may not have to travel too far as some Donnachiara wines are featured at Total Wine.

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