Cantine del Mare is located in the Monte di Procida municipality, the extreme tip of the Campi Flegrei, just north of Naples. We met Gennaro Schiano, the third generation of this winery who runs it with his wife Alessandra Carannante. Gennaro’s family began the business in the first half of last century selling bulk wine and maturing it in chestnut barrels. In the early 2000s, Gennaro renovated the winery, introducing modern machinery and new wooden wats, aiming to rediscover and promote the region by with the modernising the vineyards. In many cases, he restored abandoned vineyards that were in danger of disappearing.
Falanghina and Piedirosso, are native grapes verieties of this area and are grown on the hills overlooking the sea, which offer incredible views. In the evocative Campi Flegrei, the viticulture is extreme and mechanisation is impossible. The vineyards are located among the municipalities of Monte di Procida, Bacoli and Cigliano, and the vines are all ungrafted; the soil is in fact of volcanic origin, composed of yellow tuff and trachyte. The area is very suitable for viticulture due to the climate, as well as the quality of the soil. The proximity to the sea allows excellent ventilation that protects the plants from fungal diseases and minimises treatments. The vineyard covers a total of about 8 hectares and the average age of the vines is about 80 years old, with some vines that are over 100 years old. Gennaro and Alessandra’s activity stretches from running the vineyard to bottling the wine, taking care of every stage of process in the middle, with the aim of achieving quality production, following the strict rules imposed by the D.O.C. Campi Flegrei’s regulations.
The wine focus of our story is Sorbo Rosso; it is produced with the selection of Piedirosso grapes from a 120 year old vineyard, half a hectare in size. The vineyard is, amongst the most beautiful in the region, and is located on terraces overlooking the sea. It benefits from the wind, the sunshine and sea breeze, that give the wine a unique environmental footprint. After the grapes have been transported to the winery, the alcoholic fermentation starts, followed by spontaneous malolactic fermentation. The wine is racked into 10 hectoliter barrels where it matures for about 8-12 months, depending on the vintage. After a few months in stainless steel, the wine is bottled without any clarification or filtration to keep its characteristics unaltered. The wine ages in the bottle for at least two further years.
We tasted six vintages of this wine, of which only 1300 bottles are produced on average every year. Let us’ see how it went.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2017
The wine is the result of a particularly hot vintage. The wine has an aromatic intensity of great charm. It is shiny ruby in colour and darker in the centre of the glass. On the nose, it reveals floral notes of violet and fruity ones of black cherry, followed by bitter orange, Mediterranean aromatic herbs such as thyme, fern and it has a mineral finish. In the mouth, it is striking for its fresh-savoury sensation and firm tannins, showing clear youth. The finish is long with mineral notes.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2009
jumping back eight years from the previous sample, this Sorbo Rosso is ruby in colour with discharged colour on the rim of the glass. On the nose it impresses for varied hints of small crunchy black fruits, dried floral notes of rose and geranium, Mediterranean herbs and charred wood typical of the wines from the area. The taste of the wine shows evident savory notes, with a more integrated tannin and an excellent fresh acidity that makes it particularly pleasant.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2007
The wine is the result of an overall warm vintage, and it is a bright ruby colour that fades on the rim of the glass. On the nose, it opens on balsamic notes, followed by notes of licorice and sour cherry jams, sulphur like finish. In the mouth, it is characterised by its softness and, despite being almost sixteen years old, the tannin is silky and the fresh acidity still creates a mouth-watering effects. The finish is long with savoury tones.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2005
This wine is almost eighteen years old, and it impresses for its unespected shiny ruby colour, with just a few garnet glows. It is complex with clear tertiary aromas of sweet spices, balsamic, camphor and carob. In the mouth, it has a great personality; it is enveloping and at the same time elegant with smooth tannins. It is a very long finish with flint aftertaste notes.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2004
This wine is very similar in colour to the previous sample. On the nose, it opens on minthy and mineral notes, followed by toasted chocolate and fruity strawberry jam; it closes on dried fruit hints and Mediterranean herbs. In the mouth, the balance between the acidity and the softness is evident, with tannins totally integrated in the wine. The finish is with mineral aftertaste notes.
Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Sorbo Rosso 2003
This wine is the result of a very hot vintage, like that of the first sample tasted, and is concentrated garnet in colour with orange edges on the rim of the glass. The wine’s aroma opens slowly on notes of dark spices, carob, coffee, and finishes on typical hints of charred wood and incense. In the mouth, the wine still shows fresh acidity, and soft completely integrated tannins. It has a very long finish with savory tones, a clear result of the volcanic matrix of the territory.
This wine was a wonderful discovery, and an expression of a great region. I was particularly impressed by the last samples tasted; the three “adult” wines, were still intact, elegant, exciting. Sorbo Rosso is a great wine, the result of a wise and conscious work, with great taste-olfactory expressiveness and sure potential for aging.