Campania wines are famous all over the world! When it comes to white wines, Campania wine region is a land of long history and great biodiversity. Here is a guide to know, taste and pair the finest white wines of Campania!
Campania was the cradle of viticulture on the Italian peninsula. Between hills, mountains and a small portion of plains, Campania has always been a fertile land.
This territory has favoured the growth of about 100 native grapevines, positioning the region among the first wine regions in the world for the number of local grape varieties.
Are you curious about the great heritage of Campania wine region? Follow me in the article to choose the right fine Campania wine for every occasion!
White Wines of Campania – the History
In Campania the wine-making tradition is very old: several wine cultivars were probably imported from Ancient Greece including Aglianico, Greco Bianco, Falanghina, Fiano, Biancolella and Piedirosso grapevine varieties.
The ancient wine-making techniques can be found in the local countryside with the traditional practice of cultivating head-trained bush vines, which has remained unchanged over time for some grape varieties.
During the Roman Empire, wine production was very prosperous in the Campania wine region and Pompeii became an important commercial centre where to buy and sell wine. Still today numerous frescoes, depicting scenes from local taverns, were brought to light: they affirm the role of wine in Ancient Roman daily life.
Roman emperors preferred Campania wines and many famous poets, such as Virgil and Pliny the Elder, extolled the virtues of Falerno, a very famous wine at the time, which then lost its importance with the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
All the splendour of Campania wine collapsed in the Middle Ages since this wine region was not involved in the conservation of viticulture carried out in the monasteries.
In this period, the production of sparkling wines was neverthless encouraged in the area around Aversa thanks to the discovery of Asprinio, a grape variety with an acidic character.
In the Renaissance, there was a revival of Campania wines. Despite some dark periods, including the period when phylloxera decimated many vineyards, Campania wine is still part of one of the most interesting Italian winemaking traditions.
Campania wine region today
The whole Campania wine region boasts a good wine production, but the main wine-growing areas are situated in the provinces of Avellino and Benevento. The provinces of Aversa and Caserta, the area around Mount Vesuvius and the island of Ischia are also very interesting.
Famous red wines such as Aglianico, Taburno, Taurasi and Falerno define the local wine-making tradition in the collective imagination, but in fact several white wines make up the excellent wine production heritage of this region.
The Campania wine region reaches approximately 24,000 hectares and extends mainly over hilly landscapes (approximately 51% of the total).
Campania wines have obtained many certifications for both red and white wines.
Campania has got 4 DOCG wines (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin): Taurasi wine DOCG, the first to obtain the denomination and the only one for many years; Greco di Tufo DOCG and Fiano di Avellino DOCG, two Campania wines with ancient origins; Aglianico del Taburno DOCG – the last to obtain the denomination.
There are 14 DOC wines (Denomination of Controlled Origin):
- Falerno del Massico
- Castel San Lorenzo
- Sorrento Peninsula
- Phlegraean Fields
- Amalfi Coast
- Casavecchia di Pontelatone
- Falanghina del Sannio
Also 10 IGT wines (Typical Geographic Indication) support the prolific Campania wine production. Among them, we can find:
- Salerno hills
- Terre del Volturo
- Catalanesca of Monte Somma
Grapevines from Campania
As you can see, many fine wines of Campania are produced with white berried grapes from indigenous cultivars.
We can mention the most famous Campania wines: Asprinio, Greco, Fiano, Falanghina, Coda di Volpe (called “Caprettone”, it is an ancient grapevine used for cutting grapes with a strong acidity that are typical of volcanic soils), white Pallagrello, Forastera and Biancolella (the latter two grapevines from Campania are typical of Ischia).
In the municipalities around Salerno, we can find some pleasant surprises regarding the vines of Campania: Ripolo, Ginestra (called Biancazita or Biancatenera) and Pepella, despite being grape varieties less and less in use, make up one of the finest Campania wines: the White Amalfi Coast DOC.
White wines of Campania are always associated with minerality, good acidity and intense aromas.
1. Campania wines to pair with fish
A classic from the coast and islands of Campania, the food pairing that everyone expects while admiring the panoramic view over the Amalfi coast: traditional fish dishes require the white wines of Campania.
Greco di Tufo DOCG
This famous white wine was originally cultivated in the area around Naples and later in the province of Avellino, in a small area characterised by clayey and calcareous soil (municipality of Tufo). This Campania wine has got a great terroir with mineral characteristics and the ability to evolve over time.
It pairs elegantly with crustaceans and snappers, but also with porcini mushrooms, vegetable flans and soft cheeses. Among traditional Campania foods to pair with a bottle of Greco di Tufo DOCG, you should try Neapolitan-style cod, stewed squid and cardinal lobster.
The sparkling version is particularly suitable for fish dishes, grilled shellfish and Neapolitan-style octopus – a traditional local dish.
Aversa Asprinio DOC
Grown in the countryside in the Province of Aversa, this Campania wine is renowned for its freshness (acidity) and its light citrus aroma. Straw yellow with greenish reflections, this is a very dry white wine.
The marked acidity and mineral note make it suitable for the production of sparkling wines both with the classic method and with the charmat method.
Suitable for crustaceans, fish-based soups, totani alla Sorrentina (a recipe for stuffed squid), oysters and crustaceans. Fried fish is also a great match.
Fiano di Avellino, white Falerno del Massico DOC and Falanghina del Sannio DOC can also be an excellent choice to pair with raw seafood, crustaceans and grilled fish. These Campania wines will be explored further on.
2. Campania wines to pair with meat
Falerno del Massico Bianco DOC
This Campania wine is produced in the province of Caserta – 85% Falanghina and, for the remaining, native Campania white grapevines. It has got a straw yellow colour with greenish reflections and a fruity scent with tropical notes.
It pairs perfectly with spicy and flavoured red meats or sheep meats, braised meats and cheeses with a strong taste such as aged pecorino or spicy cheeses.
Castel San Lorenzo Bianco DOC
From Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca (and to a lesser extent from other Campania grapes), a straw yellow wine is obtained, with a vinous aroma, dry and fruity in the mouth, with good acidity and a bitter finish.
It pairs best with timbales, meat loaves, Neapolitan lasagna and rice sartù.
3. Campania wines as an aperitif
Falanghina del Sannio DOC
This white wine is produced in the area around Benevento, which is divided into four sub-areas: Solopaca, Guardia Sanframondi or Guardiolo, Taburno and Sant’Agata dei Goti.
It is possible to find this Campania wine in the still (straw yellow) or sparkling version (slightly lighter). The freshness, floral and fruity scent of this white wine of Campania lends itself well to an aperitif.
Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC
The volcanic territory of Mount Vesuvius favours the cultivation of grapevines, by retaining moisture and thus allowing their growth even without water.
The native grapevines used for this Campania wine are Falanghina and Coda di Volpe. This peculiar territory gives unique characteristics to this famous white wine.
It is not for nothing that the legend about the name of Lacryma Christi tells that Lucifer stole a piece of heaven and sank into hell, creating the chasm from which Mount Vesuvius rose.
Jesus later recognised the stolen paradise in the Gulf of Naples and, from his tears, the vineyards of the famous white wine were originated.
In legend and in reality, this Campania wine is extremely linked to the territory around Mount Vesuvius.
Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio is a straw yellow, fresh and mineral white wine.
A great Campania wine for an aperitif!
Do not miss the amazing experiences that Italia Delight offers you such as lunch at the winery and Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio wine tasting, overlooking the vineyards and the magnificent island of Capri.
4. Campania wines for the whole meal
Ischia DOC Biancolella
Biancolella grapes make up a white wine with fruity and floral scents, with an almond finish. Its wine-making tradition is linked to the island of Ischia and Naples.
A fish-based meal is definitely a good food pairing.
5. Campania sweet wines
Irpinia Fiano Passito DOC
The Irpinia area offers an excellent fragrant raisin wine with a taste of dried fruit and jam. The perfect food pairing is with almond paste-based desserts and the traditional Neapolitan cassata.
Zingarella Moscato di Baselice IGT
The production of this white wine of Campania from yellow muscat grapes takes place on the border between Campania and Puglia.
It is a sweet white wine with aromas of candied fruit, apricot and dates.
Perfect to pair with a Neapolitan pastiera or almond paste desserts.
6. Campania wines to be aged
Fiano di Avellino DOCG
Fiano di Avellino is a white wine appreciated since the Middle Ages.
Interesting notes of hazelnut stand out on the nose. On the palate, this Campania wine makes its way through the aroma of pear, honey and dried fruit. It lends itself to an ageing of up to 10 years (even Greco di Tufo wine can obtain advantages from an ageing of this duration).
This white wine from Campania will enhance extraordinary fish dishes.
Food and wine experiences
If you like white wines, Campania means exploring a land rich in food and wine experiences, to be experienced with selected Food Experts.
From walks among the rows to winery tours and aperitifs with spectacular views.
Imagine the profile of Ischia or Capri in front of you, or the majestic grandeur of Mount Vesuvius over the Gulf of Naples.
At the foot of Mount Vesuvius, in Trecase, there is a small organic winery that has been producing wine since the Second World War. There you will discover Neapolitan traditions during an inspirational cookery course on Campania cuisine: you will make Neapolitan parmigiana and other traditional dishes, while sipping their wines.
The experience, that you can easily book on Italia Delight website, will end tasting the dishes that you will have made and 5 types of Lacryma Christi wines.
The surrounding countryside is no less beautiful and the magnificent Pompeii is worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.
Right there, you can discover wine and cuisine in Ancient Pompeii thanks to the experience proposed by Italia Delight.
You can also immerse yourself in the authentic Campania wines from Mount Vesuvius: you will visit the vineyards, the historical structures – including a necropolis dating back to 79 AD and a 18th century farmhouse where amphora winemaking is currently under way – and the wine cellar located a few steps from the Archaeological site of Pompeii.
There are many attractions in Campania and many reasons to visit this land rich in history, art, food and wine.
Did you like the article on Campania wines by Nur Migahed, a graduate student in Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures at the Roma Tre University? Discover all the experiences and travel in Campania with Italia Delight!