- Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Readers would do well to commit Contrada Salandra’s name to memory as this estate makes the best Falanghina wine in Italy, and arguably the best wine from Piedirosso as well. The estate of Giuseppe Fortunato, originally an engineer, and his wife Alessandra is located in the Campi Flegrei DOC just north of Naples, where they started out by raising bees and making honey, beeswax and related products……forget all those ridiculous and atypical Falanghina wines that are redolent of pineapple, banana and other tropical fruits. That's not what the grape is about. Contrada Salandra’s version is delicately herbal, brightly mineral and very fresh, with a steely quality that elevates it to the level of a grand vin; the 2013 is the best vintage for this wine since 2010. The Piedirosso wine is almost as good.” —Ian d’Agata, Vinous, September 2015
Giuseppe Fortunato, an engineer turned farmer, and his wife, Sandra, live in Pozzuoli, Campi Flegrei, in the province of Naples, Campania. Their tiny farm— consisting of an apiary and 2 hectares of vines, with another 2.7 hectares that are leased from a relative— is a sanctuary of agricultural peace amidst the urban sprawl of Naples. The vines were extant when Giuseppe’s father bought the property in 1980. Their vineyards, planted entirely to ungrafted vines of Falanghina and Piedirosso, are located at between 90 and 110 meters above sea level and are rich in sand, clay and silt (quartz & feldspar) above a base of igneous rock.
The area itself is remarkable; the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) DOC is a large volcanic area of craters and thermal springs, all of which are the remains of an immense underwater volcano that had Pozzuoli at its center. The Romans believed this area to be the mythological home of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. Even now, one can visit the Solfatara crater, with its active fumaroles. Because phylloxera could never embed itself in the volcanic soils of the Campi Flegrei, Contrada Salandra’s vines are planted piede franco, on their own roots.
Practicing viticulture and beekeeping is an act of resistance in these parts, where the tiny vineyards must compete with real estate developers. Giuseppe does his best to maintain biological diversity in these beautiful organic vineyards that overlook the sea, which is a mere 2km as the crow flies. The Falanghina is trained using guyot training while the Piedirosso is trained to pergolas known locally as pergola pozzuoli or sylvoz.
For a nice video on Contrada Salandra and a few more words of enthusiasm (in Italian), click here.