I’m counting down the days until the national holiday of Ferragosto on August 15. While many of my friends escape to the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Positano, we spend the day with family near Naples. Pranzo di Ferragosto (lunch on Ferragosto) is seafood based. I’m cooking this year. The menu will include frittura di alici, gnocchi fatti in casa con frutti di mare and freshest whole fish that we find at the the fish vendor on the 15th.We’ll drink wine from the region adhering to the belief of “what grows together goes together”. Campania where Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Capri are found, may very well be the Italian region that has most resisted the allure of planting foreign grape varieties. Fiano and Greco are the most known white grapes. Coda di Volpe Bianca, Falanghina, and Biancolella are delicious and often overlooked white grape varieties. I’ll stick with white wines for lunch. I’d like to serve some wines that we haven’t tasted yet which will be easy to do given Campania’s abundance of indigenous varieties.How has Campania kept such a wealth of native grape varieties compared to other Italian regions? One factor may by the volcanic origin of soils which warded off the spread of phylloxera, a microscopic pest that lives on and eats roots of grapes. The soils thus prevented the extinction of may historic vineyards. Poverty may have contributed as well. Poor landowners and farmers were unlikely to uproot their vines to plant varieties that are/were trendy. Whatever the reasons may be I’m looking forward feasting on seafood and raising a glass of wine on Ferragosto with family and friends.
If you’re interested in finding out more about wines from Campania, take a vineyard tour with us and start by reading Campania awakens I and Campania awakes II. The wines I mention in the two-part series are only the tip of the Campania iceberg.