Campania’s Wines of Antiquity
Villa Matilde was established by Francesco Avallone, a lawyer and classicist,who during the 1970s set out to reclaim the ancient clones of the region's native variety Falerno. The origins of this varietal are ancient. The Greeks are thought to have brought it to Italy where the Romans cultivated and popularized it. Pliney observed that a Falernian wine made in 121 BC was served to Caligula over a century later. Falerno had been made virtually extinct by phylloxera in the late 1890s. After several years of research and helped by a team of scholars from the University of Naples, Francesco Avallone was able to identify and propagate several clones of Falerno which he replanted in the soil in the region known as Massico. Valla Matilde’s first vintage was in 1976.
The main estate vineyard located near Mount Massico and the volcano of Roccamonfina in northwestern Campania is densely planted (about 5,000/7,000 vines per hectare) using the Gouyot training system. Other estate vineyards are located in the Benevento (Rocca dei Leoni) and Avellino (Tenute di Altavilla) provinces. They are managed using organic methods with minimal outside intervention. Winemaking at Villa Matilde follows modern methods and is supported by Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s most accomplished consulting winemakers. Today the winery is run by Francesco Avallone's children Maria Ida and Tani Avallone
Importer: Empson USA, Alexandria, VA
Villa Matilde 2007 Falerno del Massico Bianco Campania ($23) 91
This ancient clone of Falanghina grows on volcanic soils with exposure to the sea. It exhibits a medium yellow gold color with floral aromas of honey with mineral notes and delicate rose petal. Rich, ripe and flavorful on the palate, it is also somewhat earthier and spicier than the regular Falanghina. It is beautifully balanced and has a long finish.
Villa Matilde 2005 Falerno del Massico Bianco Viña Caracci Campania ($36) 92
This pale straw 100% Falanghina is sourced from a single vineyard and exhibits complex aromas of citrus, honey and minerals. The palate reveals apricot and other stone fruits with good acidity and long lasting flavors on the finish. A heavenly wine.
Villa Matilde 2007 Rocca di Leoni Falanghina IGT Campania ($21) 89
This Falanghina exhibits a medium yellow gold hue with, grapefruit, pear, and mineral aromas. It is delicate and flavorful on the palate with touches of cream and honey, and shows beautiful balance, with a long lasting finish.
Villa Matilde 2006 Tenute di Altavilla Greco di Tufo Campania ($25) 88
This 100 % Greco di Tufo exhibits a deep yellow gold color with light peach aromas and anise notes. On the palate it is steely in character with neutral fruit flavors, minerals, spice, and earth.
Villa Matilde 2005 Falerno del Massico Rosso Campania ($22) 88
A blend of 80% Aglianico and 20% Pedirosso, this wine displays a dark ruby hue with aromas of ripe black cherry, spice and roasted nuts. On the palate, it reveals light fruit flavors and chocolate notes with a big tannic finish. Aged for 12 months in new and used barriques and 18 months in the bottle.
Villa Matilde 2004 Cecubo Roccamontina IGT Campania ($41) 89
This opaque ruby blend of Primitivo, Piedirosso and Abbuoto, reveals an earthy, spicy character, with intense flavors of dried black cherry fruit, plums, chocolate, licorice, vanilla., and minerals. Silky texture with tannic grip on the finish.
Villa Matilde 2004 Taurasi Tenute di Altavilla Campania ($52) 93
A beautifully integrated, elegant wine. Dark ruby, aromatic, dried black cherry and earthy, this wine is silky smooth on the attack, elegant on the palate with blackberry fruit and spice, big round tannins, and long lasting finish.
Villa Matilde 2005 Eleusi Campania ($72) 91
The Eleusi displays a light orange hue and is delicate and perfumed. The palate is honeyed with flavors of dried figs, apricots, and almonds. Soft and silky on the palate with a rich and lightly sweet finish. Pair Eleusi with that special almond tart or cake.
Michael Potashnik, Publisher - September 2009