Vangelis Gerovassiliou is a giant in the Greek wine industry. More than anyone else he represents the modern revival of Greece’s wines. A student of and close collaborator with the great Emile Peynaud at the University of Bordeaux, Gerovassiliou went on to work as the oenologist at the ambitious Porto Caras winery project in Greece. While at Porto Caras he experimented with a number of grape varieties and found that the near-extinct Malagouzia grape made superb white wine. With patience and dedication he propagated vines from a single small sample. Today, wineries all over Greece obtain Malagouzia plant material from Gerovassiliou Estate and Malagouzia is one of Greece’s powerhouse wines. The Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagaouzia is a perennial award winner receiving top 50 rankings by publications such as Wine Spectator. All of Gerovassiliou’s wines are distinctively delicious and full of character that speaks of their place of origin.
Salvatore Avallone’s father created Villa Matilde in the 1960’s after spending over 10 years of painstaking research to locate and identify the few remaining grape vines of the original strain that made the famous Falernum wine of Roman times. His father, Francesco Paolo, was a lawyer, a lifelong student of the Roman Empire and a professor of Roman Law at the University of Naples. He and his friends from the Dept of Agriculture at the University of Naples conducted an “ampelographical” study of the vines in all the small farms in the Caserta region where the famed Falernum wines had been grown. But the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800’s had wiped out the vines - all but a very few. The friends discovered 15 vines - 10 red (Aglianico and Piedirosso) and 5 white (Falanghina). With this small but precious start, the Avallone family embarked on a journey to create a modern expression of the greatest wine of ancient Rome, the Falerno del Massico.
In this episode Salvatore tells us about the history but also gives us a marvellous overview of the grapes of Campania, both red and white. His account of the differences between Aglianico from Taurasi, Benevento and Caserta (where Falerno wines come from) is very insightful and he also tells us why the white wines of Campania (Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano) are so exceptional.
The wine scene in Greece is evolving fast. New energy and new investment is being poured in and a young generation of innovators is shaking up the birthplace of wine. In some cases the most exciting wines are coming from local varietals like Assyrtiko, Limniona, Xinomavro, Agiortiko and Malagouzia. These ancient varieties are getting a makeover. And the international market is finding that Greek wines have an exciting edge. For example, Assyrtiko from Santorini has become the standard bearer for the new wines of Greece and is opening doors with its amazing character and its modern international appeal. With music from Kostas Kalafatis, interviews with 7 wine business personalities and a tour of 5 or 6 different locations, this Episode is a bit of a Greek wine whirlwind.
Italy has a wealth of wine regions, grape varieties and distinct human communities. The impact of its north-south orientation and the sandwich of the Mediterranean sea on both sides of this massive peninsula give Italy a very particular place on the European map and create an incredibly diverse range of climate and geography. As we all know, Italy is famous for its boot shape. On the heel of the boot lies the magically near-forgotten province of Puglia. Refined and aristocratic yet still a little bit of a backwater, Puglia’s culture and identity is inseparable from its indigenous agriculture - its foods and wines. Burrata cheese is becoming famous for example. But more than anything it is the wine of Puglia that is making a significant mark on the international stage. Changes in the perception of Puglian wine and increasing international recognition are gathering pace. Puglia is getting a lot of attention and few of the myriad wine cultures in Italy can match its combination of long history and sudden resurgence. Puglia combines grape varieties whose genetics are shrouded in ancient times, a wine producing history that is almost as old as that of Greece and a level of investment and energy that is almost unmatched in Italy. What is certain is that Puglia’s autoctonous grape varieties, including particularly Aglianico, Primativo and Negroamaro, have a story to tell that is as piercing as the southern Italian sun.