Some notes on the list…

Any list like this is bound to cause controversy, both in terms of those chosen and those not mentioned. I genuinely believe that for every exciting wine selected here there are two or three good wines that could justifiably claim inclusion. In narrowing the focus I hope to deliver greater impact for the producers listed. Nevertheless, I have been careful not to position the wines included as the region’s best, although many of them certainly are. Instead I have endeavoured to highlight wines that contribute to the great story that is winemaking in Campania. The vast majority of these wines demonstrate either varietal intrigue or geographical authenticity - ideally both. Consequently, terroir plays a leading role and is behind the decision to organise this list in terms of the region’s five provinces - Napoli, Caserta, Salerno, Benevento, and Avellino. Showcasing the region’s viticultural diversity and stylistic breadth is important, far more so than considerations of the size and gravitas of the producer. My own personal tastes are undoubtedly prevalent, although maintaining a foundation of general objectivity is duly considered. Accessibility in English speaking markets is a sensible, practical constraint, although ultimately I concluded it not critical to inclusion. As such, some of these wines are made in tiny quantities and are not currently exported to the UK, US or Canada.

Campania is undoubtedly one of the most exciting wine regions in Italy at the moment. The last few decades have seen dozens of wineries really come of age. The region’s largest players have adapted to international markets and, generally speaking, are more focussed on quality than ever before. Many grower families whose primary concern was selling fruit to the local co-operative have ventured out on their own and now contribute to a vibrant fabric of experimentation, innovation and entrepreneurialism. Alongside this, a culture of respect for local traditions is re-emerging and with it there is a determination to protect the viticultural and winemaking heritage of the region. There are many projects and partnerships in progress that are designed to rescue ancient grape varieties from extinction and steadily reintroduce them into commercial production. Not all of them will be a success, but the result of this dynamic and active wine industry scene is the growth in diversity and an abundance of new estates and brands. This is wonderful news for wine enthusiasts.

It wasn’t long ago that the region’s key white grapes - Fiano, Greco and Falanghina - lived on the fringes of the Italian wine world. The thick-skinned red Aglianico was also peripheral to fine wine conversations. Not any more. Today they are well and truly part of the establishment and produce outstanding wines. Reinforcing these achievements is a new wave of grape varieties, that under the careful stewardship of dedicated growers and oenologists, are starting to lead put some of the region’s lesser known territories on the modern wine map. The volcanic soils of the Campi Flegrei are proving a fabulous source of Piedirosso, the slopes of Monte Somma are showing the potential of Catalanesca, while near Pontelatone, the velvety texture of Casavecchia seems sure to appeal. Near Volturno, Pallagrello Rosso and Bianco are leading the way, showing their ability to give complex, mineral wines. Along the coast and on the nearby islands of Ischia and Capri, exotically fragrant wines come from Biancolella, Forastera, Ginestra, Fenile and Ripoli.

Such confidence in promoting obscure grapes and territories is enriching the discussion, and creating meaningful opportunities for wine lovers to engage with the region. The future is exceptionally bright. Campania is arguably the only place in Italy that is truly respected for both its red and white wines in equal measure. Perhaps only the great estates of the Veneto can credibly contest such a statement.

Napoli: Vesuvius, Monte Somma, the Phlegraean Fields, Capri and Ischia

Salerno: Cilento and the Amalfi Coast

Caserta: Aversa, Pontelatone and the Terre del Volturno

Avellino: Taurasi, Irpinia, Tufo and Avellino

Benevento: Taburno and Sannio