By Paul Caputo

Piedirosso is an ancient red grape variety grown around the Naples area in southern Italy. It has long been cultivated here and is now prevalent throughout Campania. It is known locally as palumbo, meaning Pigeon’s foot for the uncanny way in which grape clusters resemble a pigeon’s foot.

In recent years the role of Piedirosso was to soften the prominent tannins given by Aglianico. This is still generally the case, although there are plenty of producers experimenting with mono-varietal wines now. The variety appears as a blending partner in many of the region’s red wine appellations, notably in the Campi Flegrei where it produces rustic red wines with a spicy berry fruit, as well as in Vesuvio DOC.

Further east of Naples, towards the provinces of Benevento and Avellino, Piedirosso behaves somewhat differently. Fattoria La Rivolta cultivate it around the area of Taburno, although since Taburno nailed its colours to the mast and created Aglianico del Taburno DOCG, Piedirosso wines are bottled under the larger Sannio appellation, sometimes with Taburno as an official subzone.