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Ottovolante: the unrepeatable Fontana Galardi 2009-1997 Terra di Lavoro wine tasting session with Riccardo Cotarella
Roberto Selvaggi. Galardi, December 1999. Picture by Tano Pecoraro
I remember a voluptuos sensation of cold among chestnut and olive trees and vineyards in Roccamonfina and afternoons spent at Fontana Galardi chatting as the Internet didn't exist and the newspaper could wait. When there is an economic crisis you free yourself from unnecessary things and you come close to essential things, to people and things left ten years before.
Presenzano, 29 November 2009. With Riccardo, Daniel and Arturo (pictures by Tonia Credendino)
Terra di Lavoro 2009 barrel test
The wine is fresh, has scents of raspberry and blueberry and the colour is bright violaceous.
The fineness is a feature of this vintage.
The blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso is usually used for most Campanian wines. The fineness of Piedirosso makes this wine pleasant and light.
Terra di Lavoro tasting session
Terra di Lavoro 2008 Roccamonfina igt Vote 87/100
This wine is complex, has balsamic scents and notes of unripe fruit and geranium. At the beginning it is sweet in your mouth, then it becomes salty and finally is sligltly bitter. The tannins prevail.
Riccardo Cotarella has been as important in Campania as Moio. Both have introduced the idea of wine similar to the great Bordeaux, so giving the chance to make a comparison which was unthinkable before. Before them the concept of Campanian wine didn't exist out of Campania, the only wineries known out of Campania were Mastroberardino and D'Ambra. It seems to be a long time ago but it was just 18-20 years ago. Campania has given Cotarella many satisfactions and many people think that this is his wine-masterpiece. His relationtship with Feudi, that is, the most successful winery which has made the Campanian wine renown out of Campania, has been a good occasion from a cultural point of view but has been unsuccessful from a strategic point of view.
The Due Torri room
Terra di Lavoro 2005 Roccamonfina igt Vote 93/100
The other vineyard started to be productive in 2006.
The summer was rainy and the spring was hot but they did a very good job in the cellar. This wine has mineral notes of ash and fresh scents of fruit. The salty taste dominates in your mouth and the wood gives it a balsamic fragrance and a light touch of rosin. It can be paired with many dishes and is really satisfying.
In 2000 we had another Galardi wine tasting session with about ten people. I fell in love with this wine and this winery. There was Roberto who had a tragic and sparkling verve and I spent all day there wrapped in cold as only in Taurasi happened. Since that time I have invited Arturo Celentano to organize a tasting session. This tasting took place at the Due Torri in Presenzano and I enjoyed the genuine taste of products from Upper Caserta hills and meat. The atmosphere was less intimate than the one of 2000 but was involving thanks to the invitations which were managed very well by Teodoro Naddeo. The vintages were presented by me, Daniel Thomases and Gimmo Cuomo. Riccardo presents the vintage 2001 which many people consider his masterpiece. This tasting session was managed with the right elegance by Maria Luisa, Dora, Arturo and Francesco.
Terra di Lavoro 2003 Roccamonfina igt Voto 75/100
There are notes of leather, the colour is garnet red and the acidity of the Aglianico makes the taste better than the scents. Also the Taurasi wines are fresh even after seven years. In these vintages it is very important the wine expert's cleverness at taking decisions quickly to avoid the worst.
Since a short time ago a hot vintage was a good thing but in the last ten years things have changed, beginning from 2000, and this has been a favourable sign for the Aglianico, a late grape which has taken roots in the coldest areas in Campania. In the past it was a disadvantage but now is becoming an extraordinary point of strenght which makes difference.
The speakers: Gimmo Cuomo of the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, I, Riccardo Cotarella, Daniel Thomases and Arturo Celentano
Terra di Lavoro 2001 Roccamonfina igt Vote 95/100
Everybody considers this vintage very well balanced, with some good rains in summer. The scents are complex because include notes of ripe and balsamic fruit and undergrowth, mushrooms, a pinch of tobacco and light scents of leather. The taste is involving and austere.
The first Terra di Lavoro vintage is 1994. This winery is located in San Carlo di Sessa Aurunca, this area was very important at the times of the ancient Romans. Here they cultivated the cru and the wine production was thriving and the outlet was the Pozzuoli harbour. Fontana Galardi includes about eleven hectares, two kitchens and here Maria Luisa Murena and Dora Catello with their husbands, the baron Roberto Selvaggi who died in 2001, Arturo Celentano, a sommelier and the author of two fine books and Dora's brother Francesco are the protagonists of this adventure started in 1993 when they thought to produce wine for self-consumption. After two vintages, 1994 and 1995, Riccardo Cotarella joined the team and since 1997 this wine has become exceptional, above all after that Parker had compared it with the great chateau from Bordeaux. This was an overwhelming success which still exists as the economic crisis doesn't concern this fine family winery. The vineyards are at 400 metres above sea level on a volcanic soil with a density of 4,500 understocks per hectar. The fermentation takes place on direct contact with the berry skins for 15 days. The aging takes place in new Allier and Never barrels for one year. Then the wine is put in bottle for further 5-8 months.
Savio Passariello, the owner of the Due Torri in Presenzano
In Campania the only well defined variety tradition was the one of the Biancolella in Ischia and the Greco in Tufo. The variety tradition started to take root only after the methanol crisis, between 1990 and 1994. Before 1994 there were only olive trees, oaks and chestnut trees but also the typical features of a volcanic soil like good temperature ranges, a very good windy exposure and good height. There were all the conditions to plant vines and they have got very good results.
Terra di Lavoro 2008, the latest wine
Terra di Lavoro 1997 Roccamonfina igt Vote 93/100
Those who produced this wine didn't imagine that it would have been the protagonist of a tasting session 13 years later.
The final picture. Standing, from the left: Nicola Trabucco, the agronomist of Fontana Galardi, Maria Luisa, Dora, Riccardo and Francesco. Sitting: Daniel, Gimmo and I