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Southern Italian Wines take Center Stage at Radici del Sud

Showcasing Southern Italy

While most people are familiar with the wines of Central Italy and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Super Tuscans, Trebbiano, etc.) and those of Northern Italy (Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, etc.), the wines of Southern Italy are lesser known. The fact that Italy has over 500 grape varieties, making it that much more challenging. Yet, winemakers, wine tasters, journalists and many others are doing their part to promote wines of the south.  Radici del Sud is one such organization.
Since 2005, Radici del Sud endeavors to shine the spotlight on Southern Italy by featuring wines produced from native grapes in Puglia, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Sicily.  Radici del Sud is both an event and an experience that “offers opportunities for visibility to the wine and food industry and especially to the viticulture of Southern Italy and provides a detailed representation of both flourishing sectors, stressing the connections they have with their terroirs, so as to make them particularly appealing on both foreign and national markets.”
I had the honor and privilege of attending Radici del Sud a few months ago, and serving as one of the judges for the Exhibition of South Italian Wines. I was exposed to so many indigenous Southern Italian grapes, both ones with which I was already familiar, as well as those not so familiar. From Primitivo, Aglianico and Nero d’Avala to Minutolo, Magliocco and Perricone-we tasted it! The Radici del Sud Exhibition takes place over a few days and includes rigorous tastings, followed by meetings to discuss the wines and markets. Those in attendance are buyers, importers, distributors and journalists, both national and international, in an effort to obtain multiple perspectives.
Radici del Sud is all encompassing, as it features not only wines, but also the gastronomy of the South. Moreover, tours to a few of the southern regions are offered. For my edification and delight, I was able to explore more southern culture in some of the villages, vineyards and important monuments in Puglia, Campania and Basilicata while attending Radici del Sud. The culminating event is the actual exhibition,(Salone del Vino da Vitigno Autoctono Meridionale – Exhibition of wines from South Italian native grapes), which features over 100 wine producers, awards ceremony for winners of the competition and gala dinner, all at the Castello in Sannicandro di Bari, Puglia.

Radici del Sud, showcasing the wines and food of Southern Italy, will take place again this year, June 10-15th in Bari, Italy. It is an experience not to be missed!

Again, while I tasted over 100 wines at the Salon in the Castello di Sannicandro, here area few of my regional highlights:

Azienda Agricola Torricino  (Campania)

Torricino is located in the hills of Tufo, province of Avellino in Campania. Their name, Torricino, is derived from the ancient medieval tower around their farm site. Vitantonio Di Marzo started the farm in the early 1970’s. Today, his son Stefano Di Marzo manages the farm, along with Maria Concetta and Federica.

The Di Marzo Family

The Di Marzo family considers themselves ambassadors of the land.  Despite the struggles between “man and nature, a story of earthquakes and migration of a cruel and harsh land (Irpinia),” the Di Marzo family have been producing top quality wines and olive oil. Due to the sulphur mines, which were discovered in 1866, the terroir of Tufo, also known as volcanic tuff, yields wines that have a particular taste and character.

Tufo terroir at Torricino

I met Stefano and got to taste his wines. It is remarkable that Azienda Agricola Torricino produces wines in three of Campania’s DOCG appellations. I tasted:

Torricino Avellino di Fiano DOCG
Torricino Greco di Tufo DOCG
Torricino Taurasi Cevotiempo (Taurasi DOCG)
as well as their Campania Falanghina.

Each of Torricino’s wines are a clear indication of the impact their sulphur-rich terroir plays in production.

Cantine del Notaio (Basilicata)

Cantine del Notaio, under Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti and his family, have been working with Aglianico, the “king of the south,” since 1998 in Vulture, province of Potenza, Basilicata. The Vulture,  which gets its name from the Monte Vulture volcano, is renown for its fertile, volcanic soil that is most conducive for for the cultivation of olives and grapes, specifically, Aglianico del Vulture.
Cantine del Notaio  is certified organic and biodynamic. “Our growing techniques are inspired by biological and biodynamic criteria, aimed at strengthening accumulation of both water and organic substance.”

At Radici del Sud, I tasted several of their wines, including:
Cantine del Notaio La Stipula Brut Rosé of Aglianico
Cantine del Notaio Il Preliminare-Aglianico Bianco, Malvasia, Moscato and Chardonnay
Cantine del Notaio Il Rogito Rosé of Aglianico
I also tasted their star, Cantine del Notaio Il Sigillo Aglianico del Vulture

Baglio del Cristo di Campobello (Sicily)

Photo Credit: Baglio del Cristo di Campobello
Baglio del Cristo di Campobello is located in Campobello di Licata, province of Agrigento, Sicily. Campobello sits on a hilly area, approximately 324 meters above the sea-level. Campobello, or beautiful field, got its name due to its fertile soil.  As a result, the town in known for its agricultural production of grapes, olives and almonds. I had the opportunity to speak with Carmelo Bonetta of the Bonetta family (owners), check out the white, chalky soil first-hand and to taste the fruits of Baglio del Cristo di Campobello. Clearly, Sicilia has a varietal for every palate.

Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Laudari Chardonnay
Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Laluci Grillo
Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Lusira Syrah
Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Adenzia (Bianco and Rosso)
Baglio del Cristo di Campobello Lu Patri Nero d’Avola
CDC Cristo di Campobello Sicilia (Bianco, Rosato, Rosso)

Produttori di Manduria (Puglia)

Produttori di Manduria is the oldest active wine cooperation in Puglia, as it was first established in 1928 as “Federazione Vini di Manduria” and then converted into a cooperative in 1932 as “Consorzio Vini e Mosti di Manduria.” All of the wines produced there are made with Puglia’s own Primitivo di Manduria. While I was already familiar with the Produttoris wines, it was a pleasure to taste then again!  One cannot get enough Primitivo di Manduria! I enjoy one of their collections, in particularly, because each wine is named after a type poetry (Lirica, Elergia, Sonetto).  Produttori Vini Manduria Sonetto Primitivo di Manduria Riserva DOC is a favorite.

While these were just a fraction of the wines and producers, the South of Italy truly produces some amazing wines. Be sure to catch Radici del Sud in June to experience wine, food and culture of the South of Italy.

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Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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