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 amid 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 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 2 kilometers as the crow flies. The Falanghina is trained using the guyot method, while the Piedirosso is trained to pergolas known locally as pergola pozzuoli or sylvoz.
Contrada Salandra’s Piedirosso is composed of 95% Piedirosso and 5% co-planted ancient varieties (Ricciulella, Marsigliese, Colagiovanna) from 2.5 hectares of ungrafted vines at 90–200 meters above sea level. The vineyards were planted around 40 years ago. In the cellar, the grapes are destemmed and fermented in stainless steel. Maceration lasted a staggering 45 days, practically unheard of for Piedirosso. Aging lasts for 20 months in stainless steel. There is no fining or filtering, and total SO2 added is around 10mg/l. The wine ages in bottle for an additional six months before release.
In the glass, aromas of dark fruits and dried Mediterranean herbs dominate. The palate brings flavors of dark plums, stewed raspberry, and a savory herbaceous note. The tannins are well-integrated, putting this bottle in its prime drinking window.
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