I Favati ‘Terrantica’ Greco di Tufo, Cesinali, Campania, Italy 2016
GRAPE: 100% GRECO DI TUFO [GREH-coh dee TOO-foh]
The name Greco actually refers to a family of different interrelated grapes, but the one that both receives and deserves the most attention is the Greco grape from Tufo. Tufo is the town name, the appellation name, and the word for the volcanic soil type made that makes up this area. That volcanic influence is clearly the vital reason why Greco here stands head and shoulders above the rest. It is also a grape that presents a number of growing challenges, so making a great wine from it is clearly limited to those who are first and foremost steadfast in the vineyards. Experimentation with growing it in different soils and climates is certainly appealing, but it remains to be seen if the results can reach anything remotely close to the type of textural beauty that occurs in this very small pocket of Italy. It’s all about the sweet spot.
GROWER: In 2016, I Favati was bestowed the Italian white wine of the year award for it’s Fiano di Avellino. Naturally, as soon as the word was out it was very quickly a hard wine to find, and so many new people suddenly found a love for Fiano. Thankfully, however, I was still able to get my hands on the very last of the Greco di Tufo from the very same incredible vintage… And it’s clear that there was a little magic in the cellar that year. As I’ve enjoyed the wines from this small family winery for many years, I’ll be honest and state I’ve always kinda preferred their Greco. With their total production at less than 5000 cases, and their Greco vineyard only about 4 acres, it’s easy to sense just how special this labor of love is even before you get it into a glass. Savor it well.
GLASS: This Greco is mighty. It is layered and it is simply gorgeous. I’m first met with jasmine, orange blossom and warm sun ripe grapefruit. I find that Greco always has a helping of citrus oil to it, and in this case it’s like a sweet smelling rind that’s been freshly zested. The acid is naturally an important part, but it is not at all angular or sharp. This is both due to a great ripening year for the grapes but also a couple of years in the bottle. That small amount of maturity has also developed a perceived sweetness to the fruit giving the palate a delicious mix of asian pear and lemon curd. Lastly, as to be expected, there is certainly a healthy dose of a kind of crushed rocks minerality that finishes off what is just an incredibly complex wine.
SIDE NOTES: The importance of a producer like I Favati getting recognized at this level for their wine cannot be understated. Not only for the family themselves, but for the entire region; something that Campania truly deserves on the world stage.
ORIGINS : CAMPANIA
The eyes of the wine world have always been drawn to the South of Italy – but this beautiful region is truly the source of the draw. East of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius there are three DOCG level wine appellations: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Taurasi. It is their proximity to the iconic volcanic landmark that is the key to their success, by way of their unique soils. In fact, soil is the common factor for the recent rise and success of other southern Italian wines as well (see: Etna). In turn, this factor has also been a catalyst for attention given to so many small and regionally unique Italian grape varieties throughout all of Italy. It defines how we view this wealth of diversity today. You know the old adage: “a rising lava lifts all varietals…” or something like that.
If there were ever a place that I would call ground zero for my Italian Wine education and love, it is Campania. I owe this portion of my wine education to my dear friend and colleague, Shelley Lindgren who has been instrumental in championing these wines to the US market. And what a wonderful and gracious champion she is.