Italy: Campania

Salvatore Molettieri (Taurasi-Montemarano)

We have a bit of a thing for Taurasi. Taurasi is one of Italy’s great reds: the so-called “Barolo of The South”. It comes from Campania, forty minutes’ drive into the volcanic hills east of Naples. The grape is Aglianico and here, on volcanic soil, Aglianico is untamed, tannic and often grand.
The Molettieri family has been making wine for 4 generations in Montemarano, in the southern part of the zone. In 1983, instead of selling grapes to Mastroberardino (who was widely credited with bringing Taurasi onto the world stage), Salvatore Molettieri decided to make his own wine.
Salvatore, now 69, is joined by his 4 sons Giovanni, Giuseppe, Luigi, Paolo and their families. Giovanni, who studied Oenology, plays a leading role. Salvatore and his wife Angela had hoped to have a daughter but their Doctor told them they might need 12 children before getting a girl. They called it a day at 4.
The Molettieri family make several reds, all featuring Aglianico, and also a couple of whites (strictly speaking, more straw yellow/golden than white); Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.
Fiano is thought to be the grape in Apianum, glowingly written about in Roman times. Fiano is one of the grapes (along with Greco di Tufo) that was rescued from the verge of extinction by high-profile pioneering local, Antonio Mastroberardino, after World War 2. Although also grown in Puglia and Sicily, and more recently popping up in Australia, Argentina and Rioja, the volcanic area around Avellino in Campania is considered its natural home.
Salvatore and his oenologue son Giovanni pick their Fiano very late, usually at the end of October, sometimes even as late as November. The 2016 has good density and evocative of baked apple with some herbal notes.
Another of Mastroberardino’s varietals saved from extinction, Greco di Tufo, as the name implies, is thought to have originally come from Greece 2,500 years ago. Tufo is the name of a small town between Avellino and Taurasi. The Molettieris also pick their Greco di Tufo very late. They say that the wine is too acidic if you pick earlier. This is a striking wine, energised by the volcanic and clay soil, with an almost salty, saline finish. Savoury marzipan, anyone?
The Taurasi and Taurasi Riserva (only made in the best years) are benchmarks. Full throttle, gutsy and yet with polish and elegance. We often bring in some of their mature vintages – 2005, 2007, 2008.
Molettieri’s Irpinia Aglianico Cinque Querce is a junior Taurasi, with some of the adult, tannic hit and texture of its senior.
Their Irpinia Rosso comes from a single vineyard, Ischa Piana, planted in 1994 and is a blend of 85% Aglianico with 15% Piedirosso (red feet) & Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination produces a rich, round, southern red.

Raffaele Guastaferro (Taurasi)