Head a little way south of Naples and you reach the province of Salerno’s most scenic treasure, Cilento, a beautiful stretch of coastline that extends east into the Unesco protected Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano e Alburni, Italy’s second largest national park.
Although two well known regional varieties dominate the area, Fiano for whites and Aglianico for reds, a host of others are permitted at the producer’s digression to tweak things. Although the wines of Cilento are pretty much unknown outside the area, there are some interesting examples worth tracking down.
Gentle hills of clay and limestone slope this way and that, calmly climbing in altitude towards villages such as Moio della Civitella in the far east of the denomination. This is Campania’s, most southern appellation but even within the Cilento growing area there are different personalities.
The coastline is dominated by fishing villages such as Marina di Pisciotta or Sapri where the local catch is perfect with white wines from Fiano or even Trebbiano Toscano which can also be found planted here.
Vineyards can be cultivated up to 450m to be considered Cilento DOC (with the exception of Moio della Civitella that can go as high as 550m) and as such some of the wines can be characterised as perfumed. Generally though they are considered soft and fruity, especially when compared to wines produced elsewhere in the region.
Those wines closest to the sea are generally considered softer and fruity than those further to the east. When compared with but as one moves east through the higher villages, the wines take on some additional perfume. Aglianico grown in Cilento is often softer and lighter than that found further inland in Taburno and Taurasi for example.
White wines are produced with a majority of Fiano (60%-65%) and are blended with Trebbiano Toscano (20%-30%) and a touch of Greco and / or Malvasia (10%-15%).
The star wine of the appellation is probably the Cilento DOC Aglianico Riserva. The rules state it must be aged for a minimum of three years (of which at least two must be in bottle) before release ensuring consumers meet a developed wine. Boutique producers such as Alfonso Rotolo have found national success with their ‘Le Ghiandaie’.