Tag Archives: Greco

Wine Review: I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa "Vite Maritata" DOC 2011

Today’s wine is a very particular, small production Italian white wine from a little known appellation in the Campania region, namely I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa “Vite Maritata” DOC 2011 ($21).

The Bottom Line

I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa "Vite Maritata" DOCOverall, the I Borboni Asprinio was a good to very good white wine from an appellation that is not widely known, with a good QPR. It had a very good nose, if not too complex, with nice citrus and flowery aromas and hints of herbs. In the mouth its crisp acidity was all the way to the top of the scale and it went hand in hand with a marked, pleasant sapidity, both of which were very nicely balanced by the wine’s creamy smoothness. I Borboni’s Asprinio is a solid, good-priced option to consider for a warm Spring or Summer day, either by itself or paired to a seafood pasta or Francesca’s asparagus and pea flan.

Rating: Good to Very Good and Recommended Good to Very Good – $$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Grape Variety and the Appellation

While Asprinio has for a long time been considered an autonomous grape variety (and still is by many today), DNA profiling has recently showed that Asprinio is actually exactly the same variety as Greco, which in turn is close to Aleatico. Greco is a white-berried grape variety that is mostly cultivated in Southern Italy, particularly in the Campania region.

If probably the best known appellation for Greco-based wines is Greco di Tufo DOCG near the town of Avellino in Campania, “the” appellation for Asprinio wine is Aversa DOC (also known as “Asprinio di Aversa DOC”) which was created in 1993 and encompasses an area, always in the Campania region, near the town of Aversa and the city of Naples, requiring the use of a minimum of 85% of Greco (locally known as Asprinio) grapes.

(Information on the grape variety taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012 – for more information about grape varieties, check out our Grape Variety Archive)

Harvesting Asprinio di Aversa (AKA Greco) Grapes Image Courtesy of the Town of Aversa

Harvesting Asprinio di Aversa (AKA Greco) Grapes
Image Courtesy of the Town of Aversa

The word Asprinio is a variant of the Italian word “aspro” which means “sour” due to the high acidity that is typical of the wines made in this appellation. Based on the ISA wine pairing guidelines, this makes it the perfect wine to pair with dishes with considerable latent sweetness (please refer to my post about wine pairing guidelines for a more detailed explanation).

Another distinctive feature of the Asprinio di Aversa DOC appellation is the traditional way to grow the local ungrafted grapevines, where tall trees serve as natural trellis, resulting in vines that climb up to 82 ft (25 mt) high and require the use of very tall ladders to harvest the top grapes – the photograph to the right illustrates this singular grapevine growing method which is also known as “vite maritata” (literally, “married grapevine”).

About the Producer and the Estate

The winery that makes the Asprinio that we are reviewing (I Borboni) as well as their vineyards are located in the town of Lusciano, near Caserta, in Southern Italy’s Campania region and have been owned by the Numeroso family since the early 1900’s.

There, the Asprinio is still fermented and briefly aged in a winery that was built in a cave 43 ft (13 mt) deep into the ground, right underneath the owners’ family house. This provides an ideal environment for making and preserving the wine, ensuring even temperature, coolness and dampness throughout the year.

Our Detailed Review

I Borboni, Asprinio di Aversa “Vite Maritata” DOC 2011 was 12% ABV and it fermented for 15 days in stainless steel vats, where it then aged for 6 months, plus an additional month in bottle. A minor gripe that I have is that the bottle comes with a silicon closure, which I just find cheap and unbecoming of a good wine… but maybe that’s just me. 😉 It retails in the U.S. for about $21.

As usual, for my reviews I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.

In the glass, the wine was a lush golden yellow in color and moderately viscous.

On the nose, it was moderately intense (bear in mind that this wine really opens up when it is not too chilled: for me, it peaked at 58 F/14.5 C) and moderately complex, with fine aromas of citrus, orange blossoms, orange zest, butter and herbs.

In the mouth, the wine was dry, had medium ABV and was smooth; it was acidic and tasty, medium-bodied and balanced, with intense and fine flavors of citrus, orange, minerals and brine, with very accentuated sapidity and a medium finish. In its life cycle, the wine was mature, meaning drink now, do not hold.

Pumpkin Soup – Recommended Wine Pairing

To adequately complement Francesca’s elegant pumpkin soup, I suggest you pick a medium-bodied white wine with enough acidity to compensate for the inherent sweetness of the pumpkin. Here are a few solid options to choose from, all of which I have selected (as usual) because they present a very good quality/price ratio.

To offer a little extra variety, I am going to recommend wines from two very different regions in Italy: Piemonte (in the Northwest) and Campania (in the South). The wines I am going to discuss below are all DOCG appellations, are all varietal and they all reflect the territories of their respective regions: those from Piemonte are all made out of Cortese grapes, while those from Campania are made out of either Greco or Fiano grapes.

Cortese is a white-berried grape variety that is indigenous to the Piemonte region. The appellation “Gavi DOCG” requires that wines be made out of 100% Cortese grapes grown in the area surrounding the town of Alessandria. Gavi wines are generally medium-bodies, fairly light dry white wines with good acidity.

Among the best Gavi wines available out there are Batasiolo‘s Gavi Graneé del Comune di Gavi DOCG (with scents of herbs, citrus, peach and Mirabelle plum) or Broglia‘s Gavi del Comune di Gavi “La Meirana” DOCG (with aromas of white flowers, apple, pear and citrus) or the nobler and more expensive old vine “brother” Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Bruno Broglia” DOCG (with scents of jasmine, herbs, pear, citrus and minerals) or La Scolca‘s Gavi dei Gavi DOCG (with aromas of almond, walnut and minerals). A special mention goes to a phenomenal Gavi made by Nicola Bergaglio: the Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Minaia” DOCG, with exquisite aromas of pear, gooseberry, white currant and minerals. Unfortunately, as of October 2012, the producer does not have a Web site: should you be interested in reaching out to them, just drop me an email.

Moving on to Campania, Greco and Fiano are both white-berried grape varieties that are used in two appellations of that region, namely “Greco di Tufo DOCG” and “Fiano di Avellino DOCG.” These both require that wine be made out of at least 85% respectively Greco and Fiano grapes grown in specific areas near the town of Avellino.

Fiano’s history can be traced back to the XIII century, based on evidence of a purchase order of Fiano wine for Emperor Frederick II. The grape origins are still debated, with some believing that it originated in Italy, where it is said to have been called vitis apiana by the Romans (literally, “bee grapevine”) because of the sweetness of the grapes which made them a favorite of bees, and others maintaining that it was instead brought to Italy by Greek migrants during the Greek colonization of Southern Italy (so-called “Magna Graecia”) in the VI century BC. Greco’s history goes even farther back than Fiano’s, with evidence of its cultivation in Campania being found in a mural painting in Pompei dating back to the I century BC, which refers to the wine obtained from that grape as “Greek wine.” This is because Greco is a grape that is said to have been imported into Italy from Thessaly (Greece) by the pre-Hellenic people of Pelasgians as far back as the second millennium BC. So, Fiano and Greco have both roots that go so deep in the documented history of Campania that they can be considered indigenous varieties to that region.

Notable Greco di Tufo wines include A Casa‘s Greco di Tufo “Bussi” DOCG (with scents of acacia blossoms, herbs, melon, pear, citrus and almond; noteworthy and commendable is the important investment made by the owner to achieve an excellent density of 5,000 vines/HA), Cantine I Favati‘s Greco di Tufo “Terrantica” DOCG (with flowery aromas of broom, mimosa, linden blossoms and walnut) or Mastroberardino‘s Greco di Tufo “Novaserra” DOCG (with scents of sage, apricot, peach, pear, apple, citrus and almond). A special mention goes out to the exceptional Pietracupa‘s Greco di Tufo DOCG (with exquisite aromas of fern, sage, nectarine, citrus, ginger and pepper): even in this case, unfortunately as of October 2012 the producer does not have a Web site: should you be interested in reaching out to them, just drop me an email. Note that all wines that we recommended above are entirely varietal, and therefore made out of 100% Greco grapes.

A few Fiano di Avellino wines that are worthy of mention are Le Masciare‘s Fiano di Avellino “Anbra” DOCG (with a bouquet of white flowers, herbs, melon, grapefruit and hazelnut), Cantine Antonio Caggiano‘s Fiano di Avellino “Bechar” DOCG (with aromas of wildflowers, hazelnut, pepper and chalk), Mastroberardino‘s Fiano di Avellino “Radici” DOCG (with scents of acacia blossoms, pear, pineapple, hazelnut, honey and minerals) or Feudi di San Gregorio‘s Fiano di Avellino “Pietracalda” DOCG (with aromas of wildflowers, apple, citrus, hazelnut, chestnut and chalk). Even in this case, note that all wines that we recommended above are entirely varietal, and therefore made out of 100% Fiano grapes.

As always, leave a comment and let me know your impressions if you have enjoyed any of these wines or if you wish to suggest another wine that could pair well with Francesca’s pumpkin soup!