The geographic configuration of the Amalfi Coast features a memorable setting. It runs alongside the sea with the trend of an antique piece of lace and soars towards the sky with its high mountains peaks.
From the coast to the Lattari mountains, the streets and the terraces are built on small patches of land reclaimed from the rock. The small artificially turf rock built areas, were laboriously filled with soil by man. Here the establishment of vineyards from which DOC labeled selected wines are produced, under the name of Amalfi Coast, divided into three subzones: Furore, Ravello and Tramonti.
Wide on average no more than five meters, the terraces have an irregular profile imposed by the anarchy of the rock. Each terraces hosts an average of four rows of vines aligned on geometrical laid out pergolas of chestnut poles.
The first local wine producers of the Coast had farming and fishing traditions and only in the recent decades, they have discovered the importance of their fine products and today DOC vine zones cover virtually the entire hilly area of the Amalfi Coast, between Positano and Vietri, even though the more suitable areas can be divided in three locations: Furore, Ravello and Tramonti.
The grapes outline an important balance between taste, persistence, perfumes, tannin and acidity. A mix given to the wisdom of the winemaker to its former confidence in handling this winemaking process, all under the banner of empiricism, governed only by the moonlit nights and the trust their senses and experience.
Evocative names, well known to the great travelers and artists, from Ibsen to Gregoriovus, recall long climatic holidays during the mild Winter periods, then completely unrelated to the growing phenomenon of just Summer holidays.
I refer to grapes as Fenile, Tronto of Furore, Ripolo, Pepella, Sciascinoso and Tintore of Tramonti. These grapes are closely linked to the territory, and in some cases exclusive of the hinterland of Amalfi.
The most popular quality of grapes in Southern Italy, the basis of great wines such as Falerno and Taurasi. It grows in the privileged areas ranging from the Ontario to the Vulture. There are multiple clones that all have a common genetic matrix. The wine extracted features soft tannins in a well rendered red color, ruby reflections and hints of tobacco.
Grape difficult to govern because of its slow mature and the harvest between late October and early November. Often the uncertainty and the risk of losing the fruit, it reaches only a fair degree of alcohol. The wine comes from grapes not completely ripe, has a high tannin that severely alters the balance.
Today its fame is mainly linked to Taurasi. Costa d'Amalfi Aglianico is present for 30% of the three red DOC wines Furore, Ravello and Tramonti, from time to time with Piedirosso, Serpentara and Tintore. It is also used in the composition of Rosati.
Even if the vine is largely present only on the island of Ischia (ancient Aenaria) it is the main feature of several wines outside the island, not excluding some DOC labeled wines of the Amalfi Coast. Vinified it becomes Ischia Biancolella DOC and, coupled with Forastera, it becomes one of the preferred Ischia white sparkling wines, very expressive of the volcanic soil in which they grow.
Also present in some area of Naples, the Biancolella finds its ideal habitat in warm soils, rich of lapilli. The name derives from the dialect words Janculella and Janculillo, which testify the local name and identity and its ancient traditions.
Vine of medium strength, offering in exchange for a generous yield, sugar content and low acidity levels. Biancolella contributes to give taste to several DOC wines: Capri, Campi Flegrei, Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast, where it is locally called tender white.
There are two varieties of Falanghina. The original comes from Campi Flegrei and another known as Benevento type, is produced in the Benevento area. The name also derives from phalangae, the pile of wood around which the vines grew, a system still used in the area of Pozzuoli.
A predominant original grape variety of the most qualified DOC Region wines, such as Campi Flegrei, Falerno Massico, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast.
Another thing is, instead, Falanghina type "Benevento", beginning in the shape of the grape's bunch: cylindrical, the one of Campi Flegrei, conical-pyramidal the one from Benevento.
The berries are round and elliptical in the first case in the second, the acidity of the grape must is lower in the one of the Neapolitan area.
There are no historical precedents and literature, but it seems that he name derives from a peasant interpretation, due to its white-gold color, very close to that of hay. Raised under pergolas, in groups of two to three plants per post, it offers a modest production of grapes per bunch. The grapes ripen in late August and early September, collected immediately, otherwise the very thin skins tend to rot. The level of sugar is rather high, while the acidity is maintained on an average.
Present mainly in the territory of Furore, Positano and Amalfi, Fenile contributes to the DOC Costa d'Amalfi wines of the Furore sub-area.
Among the most typical grape from Campania, the Piedirosso finds its wider dissemination of the province of Naples, an area in which it give its best. We refer particularly to the Campi Flegrei area (not excluding the island of Ischia) and contributes as a basic element for important DOC wines, such as: Per'e Palummo, Lacryma Christi, Gragnano, Lettere and Sorrento. Piedirosso is probably the predominant grape variety of the Amalfi Coast and also an ampelographic component of DOC wines of the Sannio, Taburno and Sant'Agata dei Goti areas.
The name derives from the extraordinary imagination of Neapolitans that compare the red stalks of the berries to the the color of the pigeon's leg: Piedirosso or Per'e Palummo.
A historic vine, present throughout the region since the early XIX century it features a fairly high sugar level and a relatively limited acidity.
The earliest references date back to 1825 and remained for long uncertain, because the vine - although having similar characteristics to the White Zita, it is considered a distinct variety.
Only half a century later it was named Ginestra (Broom), and grows near the municipalities of La Scala, Ravello, Amalfi, Maiori and Minori, whilst the White Zita is present in Furore, Tramonti, Corbara and Positano.
It major characteristic is a strong scent of broom, from which the grape takes its name.
A grapevine that requires heavy pruning and gives a good production, despite the modest weight of the bunch. At maturity, the level of sugar is quite high and the acidity content is strong. It contributes to give flavor to the Costa d'Amalfi DOC Bianco.
Another typical vine, exclusive of the hinterland of Amalfi and almost completely ignored by the texts of oenology. The name seems to be attributable to the cluster bunch shape, which features next to normal-sized berries, small berries like grains of pepper. Although its origins are uncertain, it is believed that the production of this variety was started in the late XIX century in large municipalities north of Maiori and Amalfi, which are Tramonti, Ravello and Scala. Anyhow, of this vine only on a few very dated plants are preserved.
It is used as an additional contribution to red wines such as Amalfi, Ravello and Tramonti DOC Costa d'Amalfi. Ripe between the second and third decade of September, it features a fairly low level of sugar and acidity.
The grape is now a monopoly of the territory of Amalfi, in particular of the municipalities of Furore and Positano, where it is raised in small cultivated areas on pergolas. It was once widespread on the slopes of Mons Lactarius, especially Pimonte, Gragnano and Castellammare, where, however, since the XIX century, the production was been drastically reduced.
The vine is not very fertile, and for this reason the production has been limited and not always constant due to the weight of the bunch, which is very varied and in any case less than the average.
It has always grown in the Campania region, especially in the province of Avellino, with various synonyms: Sanginosa, Strascinuso and Olivella.
A robust grapevine which produces heavy clusters that offer a good production. The low level of sugar and a fairly high acidity give to its wine an intense color and a special taste.
Used mainly to complete the taste and body for the DOC Sannio Sciascinoso, it also enters into the composition of Campi Flegrei Rosso, Rosso or Rosso Frizzante Sorrento Peninsula and the Red and Rosé Amalfi Coast.
Its most noble destination is linked to the contribution in the famous Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, in which, together with Piedirosso, it is present at 80%.
The hills of Tramonti are almost the exclusive home of this grape variety (the presence in the valley dell'Irno the Amalfi coast and further inland are very small), which owes its name to the intense red color of the grape's rich layers, beneath the skin.
Traditionally raised in a radial pattern, it guarantees a good level of sugar and total acidity. Apparently, according to the descriptions of historians of the XIX century, there is a certain affinity between Tintore, Tintora di Lanzara, also of the Salerno area, and Olivella Tingitora. But is limited only to certain characteristics: the red-vinous colored stalk, its early maturing and the typical drying use of the grapes.
Well vinified, the wine is highly appreciated and is a basic element of the Costa d'Amalfi DOC Rosso, for the subarea of Tramonti.
An important variety of the Amalfi coast vineyards, the vine is present in very small areas of the Neapolitan area, particularly in the vineyard of the Hermitage of San Martino, where, for its genetic and morphological similarities with Aglianico, it is called "Aglianico di Napoli".
Even though today this vine is among the most common and noble of the South of Italy, it features several varieties, which still draw the attention of the major experts.
The Tronto, raised on pergolas, with two or three plants per post, mainly in the Furore area, it is used as an additional contribution in Costa d'Amalfi DOC Rosso Furore. Present also in Amalfi and Positano areas, it continues to be a concern to wine makers for its behavior, in most ways distinct, but in some linked to its similarities with the Aglianico .
The origins of this grape variety are uncertain. In the past it has often been confused with Piedirosso, Streppa Rossa e il Mangiaguerra, which were all historically present in the province of Naples and Salerno. A vine with a strong resistance to pests, it features small to medium size bunches. Historically bred in the territory of Tramonti, Valle d'Irno and Colli Picentini, it is often used in the composition of DOC Amalfi Coast wines and in some IGT.