Southern Italy Wine Region: A Land of Enchantment

Lincoln, NE – On a recent trip to Italy with a small tour group we were hosting I became even more enamored with the Italian wine region of Campania than I had before. This is saying a lot as I have always had a soft spot for the wines from this region.

What struck me on this visit was the connection the winemakers have with their terroir. They have a passion and pride for their vineyards and the wines they produce that you can feel when you talk to them, even with the language barrier.

Naples is the capital of Campania and Mount Vesuvius is the most visible attraction. Vesuvius is a volcano that can be seen for miles and miles. Past volcanic eruptions have had a dramatic impact on the soil in Campania and the vineyards are benefactors as the pumice laden soil is porous and ultimately causes the roots of the vines to go deep for nutrients.

Campania is famous for great white wines, and red wines, and most of what is grown there are indigenous varieties. But some winemakers are producing a small amount of international grape varieties with remarkable success.

For food to pair with the Campania wines I chose a cheese and meat tray at a new establishment in Hastings called The Cheese and Wine Shop. This is a new shop that has the best selection of artisan cheese and meats that I have seen in the Midwest. It is remarkable. The shop owner, Michael Consbruck, is a trained sommelier who is very knowledgeable about wine and a fanatic about the cheeses and meats he sells. The plate I ordered had a great combination ideal for pairing with wine. It included Gruyere and Pecorino cheese, salami and mortadella and an assortment of relish items.

For wine, I started with Cantine San Paolo Fiano di Avellino, 2022, Campania, Italy, $21.00. This winery is located in the deeply wooded and mountainous area of Avellino; it is rustic and charming. They also have the cutest vineyard dogs you have ever seen! The owners are humble, kind, and welcoming and their winemaking is spot on. The Fiano grape is one of two white varieties in Campania with the DOCG classification, which places this variety in the most elite category for Italian wines. Cantine San Paolo’s Fiano is straw yellow in the glass with expressive tropical fruit, pear, and honey aromas. In the mouth, the wine has bright acidity that explodes across the tongue, it offers flavors of pears, mango, pineapple, and citrus. This is a serious wine, but very pleasant and easy to drink.
89 points

Next, I tried Masseria Frattasi “Caudium” Aglianico, 2022, Campania, Italy, $20.00. Aglianico is the most famous red variety in Campania. It is an ancient variety that was popular with the Romans when they ruled Europe. Aglianico is grown throughout Campania where it thrives in the volcanic soil. Masseria Frattasi is a magnificent winery with vineyards in various locations in the mountains. This winery is a perfect combination of traditional winemaking in a modern setting. The son of the current owner is key to the operation and takes immense pride in the history of the winery and is enthusiastic about the path they are on now. Frattasi’s Aglianico is a deep garnet in the glass with scents of blackberry, pepper, and plum. The wine has a bold intensity on the palate with grippy tannins and fresh acidity. Flavors of plum, blackberry jam and an intriguing smoky nuance make this wine contemplative and delicious. This is a textbook Aglianico.
89 points

The final wine for this tasting is Salvatore Martusciello “Otto Uve” Gragnano, 2022, Campania, Italy, $25.00. This wine is made from a blend of eight grapes indigenous to Campania. The vineyards are all located on the hillsides surrounding Mount Vesuvius. Salvatore Martusciello’s family created the Gragnano classification, and they are the reason this wine exists today. The wine is famous in Naples as a pizza wine, and you see the wine in almost every restaurant in the Naples area. This wine is served chilled and when poured is deep purple with a pretty lavender froth. On the nose, it offers muted violet and black plum. The wine has a delicate effervescence that is fun and playful with flavors of cherry, plum, and a hint of smoke. I really enjoy this wine and will drink it with pizza soon.
88 points

With the cheese and meat tray my favorite wine was the Fiano di Avellino. The wine intensified the flavors of the cheeses in particular and worked well with the salami. This white wine has a great mineral component, and is full of flavor, and I can see why it has earned the DOCG classification.

Mark McDonald and his wife, Kim, own The Italian Vine, a Lincoln-based wine distributorship.
For more information on these wines, including where you can find them in Lincoln or Omaha, email

The Italian Vine


5612 South  49th Street

Lincoln, Nebraska 68516