It was a Friday afternoon, I was in Montefredane, and I was determined to be on time for my appointment with Villa Diamante without calling for help with directions. My tom tom had led me only so far so I was on my own. I was on my way to visit one of Irpinia's top Fiano producers on a road that was curvy, narrow, stretto. There were no arrows, no signs, no giant billboards And just when I was about to give up I looked to my right and saw a vineyard. Villa Diamante? I wondered. My phone rang. Karen, you've found us. I found them. Diamante and her husband, wine maker Antoine Gaita.
We settled down and got comfortable in their dining room next to the fireplace. Part one of the tasting would begin here, I was told. Begin with the four bottles of Fiano Vigna Della Congregrazione on the table....Fiano 2010, 2009, 2005 and 1998. I assumed that we'd begin with the youngest wine, the 2010. Gaita had something else in mind. I noticed that he reached for the older bottle containing the 1998 vintage. I noticed everything...the older label which said Vino da Tavola (Fiano di Avellino became a DOCG in 2003).
I noticed the cork. A cork that lead to a very interesting discussion on the winery's history.
A cork that bottled their 6th vintage from a vineyard planted back in 1986. Back then, no one knew or probably ever dreamed of the success and longevity of Fiano. We talked about the small winery's growing years...in search of an important fiano. Like in '93 when they decided to start harvesting in late October to collect grapes with a higher concentration of sugar. Back in '93 in southern Italy the idea of malolactic fermentation during the wine making process wasn't a popular one, either. It was a process usually used in cooler regions. In '97, Gaita chose to leave the wine on the lees, a technique used by the French as in Champagne region. But back to the cork. Gaita shared that they used to cork the bottles by hand. And this particular cork, he continued, over time made a seal over the top of the bottle. And though in the early years a little air may hav gotten in, and a little wine may have evaporated, this little cap was able to conserve the wine that I was about to taste.
The tasting continued, and so did our conversation...from English, to Italian, and even a little French. We talked about complexity in wine and Gaita compared it to that in music. Music for the nose. It can be simple and monotonous...or it can be full, layered...complex. Music to the nose as in the next wine we tried, the 2009 vintage. Pleasant and flavorful. (Chablis)
Then the 2010. Here was a full concert of aromas in the glass. I had tasted this back in November and it was exciting to see how this vintage has excitingly evolved in the bottle after a few short months. Fresh, floral, light fruit...a mouthful of flavors. Definitely a wine to watch.
And speaking of time, it was time for lunch, so we decided to continue our tasting of Villa Diamante's two red wines at a nearby restaurant and pair it with some local specialties.
Pater Nobilis Irpinia Aglianico 2006. A deep cherry nose. I couldn't help but notice the dark red ruby in the glass as Gaita talked about the 75 year old vines in Paternopoli. Twenty four months in new French oak barrels.
Then on to Pater Nobilis Taurasi 2007. Here the cherry nose was black...dark, profound, like the color in the glass. Twenty four months in tonneaux.
Then...then it was time to put my pen and notebook down. Time to pack my camera away.
And time to have a second piece of eggplant parmigiana along with my glass of Pater Nobilis.
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