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DonnaChiara produces stunning wines in the Campania region of Italy

The white wines of Donnachiara
The white wines of Donnachiara

I think Americans get confused about Italian wine because there are so many regions and so many more grape varieties. There’s very little a wine writer can do about that because it’s just a fact of Italian life.

Campagnia is a region that sits on the front of the ankle when you look at the boot. Puglia and Basilicata are south and east of it. It’s the land of Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, as well as Naples and the Amalfi coast.

DonnaChiara is a woman-run business. They have been growing grapes for over 150 years, and the vineyards have been passed down mother to daughter for five generations. Because of the length of their affiliation with this land their philosophy encompasses concern for the landscape and sensitivity to the culture. They use no synthetic treatments on the vines. They also use solar panels for energy, recycle rainwater and try to use minimal manipulation of the grape product in the winery.

For this article, I tasted the wine in two sittings. The first were mostly from the 2012 vintage. The Greco di Tufo ($18), Fiano di Avellino ($16), Beneventano Falanghina ($16), Irpinia Coda di Volpe ($17) and the 2008 Santé Brut Falanghina ($26). These wines are available in the New York area. The four still wines are available at Zachy’s in Scarsdale.

2012 Greco di Tufo DOCG – On the nose I found notes of melon, pineapple and candied citrus. This is fairly big mouthful of wine, but not at all overpowering. The flavors follow the nose. The texture is soft and unctuous with a very long round finish.

2012 Fiano di Avellino DOCG – This is a highly aromatic wine with a husky, musty nose showing tropical fruit, white flowers and peaches. The texture is slightly oily (in a good way), there’s excellent acidity and a long ripe peach finish.

2012 Beneventano Falanghina IGT – The wine is a dark golden color with an intense nose showing acacia, pear, apricot and candied citrus. The flavors on the palate follow the nose; the texture is unctuous and the acidity high. The finish is long and pretty.

2012 Irpinia Coda di Volpe DOC – This has a soft nose of honeysuckle, citrus and apples. It is medium bodied with crisp acidity, lovely flavors and a nice round texture. The finish is long and lovely. Very easy to pair with food.

2011 Santé Spumante Brut Falanghina IGT – This sparkling wine shows herbs and subtle fruit on the nose. It is medium bodied and has a very elegant and soft mousse (bubbles). It has a decent length with flavors of soft fruit, rosemary and basil.

I noticed that all of the first flight of white wines had a creamier texture than I expect from those varieties in that area. I was told by the winemaker, Angelo Valentino: “With respect to the whites, only indigenous and selected yeasts are used for the fermentation process. The creaminess and complex structure is due to the long fermentation at low temperatures. For Fiano and Greco di Tufo the fermentation lasts for 90 days at 42°-46°F, and for Falanghina and Coda di Volpe fermentation lasts for 40 days at 53°F."

Next I’ll cover the more esoteric whites and the reds.

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