Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Italy's Fortunate Countryside: Campania

When the ancient Romans entered into a new territory, hell-bent on conquest and empire, they would sometimes describe the land that they saw before them as "the fortunate countryside" or "Campania felix." Needless to say, the countryside was not fortunate because they were about to face a Roman legion. It was about the land's beauty, its fertility, and its ability to provide all the things that make life worth living. Champagne was one such region, and its name derives from the phrase --a fortunate region, indeed. (photo of Ravello in Campania by heavenuphere)

The other major wine region to have earned the phrase is Italy's "fortunate countryside": Campania.

This month we move up the boot of Italy to the front shin area and tackle the land that brings you seafood, fried calamari, pizza--and lots of great wine. Famous for its reds, and its whites, Campania also makes sparkling wine--just like France's Champagne region.

If you want to get in the mood for some of the best that Campania has to offer in the food and wine department, here are some things to get you started.

Wine Resources on the Web That Focus on Campania: WineCountry.it has a more detailed map of the region, a good overview of the area's viticulture, and description of Campania's indigenous grapes. Still looking for some wine from the region? Check out this directory of more than 100 wineries from Campania, with links to retail sources can be found.

Movies Filmed in Campania: The Life Aquatic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Il Postino

Music to Listen to When Drinking Wine from Campania:
Alessandro Scarlatti, music played on the zampogna and ciaramella (Campanian bagpipes), the amazing Almamegretta.

Books Set in Naples: Shirley Hazzard's The Bay of Noon; Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli; Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover; Robert Harris, Pompeii, A Novel.

I'm looking forward to exploring this region of Italy with you, and as always if you have some recommendations of specific wines, please let me know.


Ikigai said...

Thank you for taking us to the shin! Haha. I'm looking forward to more description, and hopefully, some more neat pictures of the area.

Unknown said...

I have some great recommendations for you. Unfortunately, you'll have to go to Campania to drink them. I hope that situation won't last too long, though.

I'd stay away from the high-priced, lately industrial wines of big names like Feudi di San Gregorio.

Ocone's base Aglianico is "bio" and pretty clean, nice, balanced. Good QPR. Very good Falanghina too.

An very small, unsung winery is Petilia, whose Greco di Tufo is very good and well-priced.

These wineries' products are available in the US, at least in NYC.

A couple of other films set a Nabele (as they'd say in Napoli, totally schwa-ifying the last 2 syllables).

The Gold of Naples (early Loren vehicle)

Marriage Italian Style

The "yesterday" episode of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow

And sooo many more.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the tips, Terry. Will have to head to Campania soon and try them in their native habitat. Thanks, too, for the movie recs. Always looking for more things to put me in the mood.

Unknown said...

Campania is weird -- part of it is extremely beautiful, even "natural," with lots of forests and the nicest people in Italy. But it's dominated by Naples, which is like Newark only far bigger and scarier, a polluted dump.

That said, the food is utterly fantastic (Note: not much "spaghetti sauce" around.) And when you head for the hills and the little wineries, you can stumble into heaven.

If you really do go, I will give you some names and numbers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love this part of Italy. When I was there, so, so, many years ago I was clueless about wine. Now I would do anything to go back.

winedeb said...

Nice post Deb! Lots of information to pop through! Our Italian wine selection at the store is somewhat lame, but I too am trying to learn a bit more about Italian wines besides Pinot Grigio:)