Quintodecimo: Reinventing Campania
No one has made wines quite like these from Campania before. Luigi Moio founded the estate in 2001, though his family has long wine-making tradition in Campania. His vision is to marry scientific expertise with a sensitivity for the imponderable. His doctoral training in agricultural science in France thus undergirds his careful approach to using scientific principles to “transfigure” the material world into the artistic one of wine.
Science and Art
In particular, Moio’s approach is to obtain fully intact, mature fruit by carefully managing the vines’ nutritional needs and biological cycle so that they operate harmoniously with the pedoclimatic environment (note: pedoclimate means a soil microclimate that incorporates the effects of temperature, water content and aeration). He believes this is the best way to set the raw material along a path that expresses the unique characteristics of place while limiting the impact of human intervention on the landscape itself. Moio acknowledges and in fact embraces that there is no such thing as non-intervention, but that wine is a product of humans. However, humans can influence environment in different ways and to different degrees – it is in these nuances that Moio plays.
Irpinia, Typicity and Quintodecimo
Irpinia is an unusual part of Campania in that its climate and geography is atypical for southern Italy. The Apennine ridge completely alters the climate of this more inland region about 80 kilometres northeast of Naples. The region sees considerable rainfall of 600-800mm per year, extreme temperatures, snow in the winter and mild summers. The region is replete with lakes and forests. Due to these factors, the wines are not really the sunny sweet fruited wines some might expect from southern Italy – they are nothing like Puglian or Sicilian wines. Typically Campanian whites are interesting and fairly easy drinking with good acidity levels and fairly simple fruit. The red Aglianicos offer great structure and longevity and more secondary potency than primary fruit.
However, at Quintodecimo all these norms are tossed on their head. The estate is in a commune called Mirabella Eclano, which is in the Taurasi DOCG. It lies on the crest of a hill, faces northwest at about 460 metres above sea level. Rather than the good-value table wines you find from most other producers (excepting some great Aglianicos), the wines of Quintodecimo are all structured wines with a unique density and stunning purity of fruit. The whites in particular are almost unrecognizable in quality for the region – with much greater concentration, structure and ageability. The Aglianico I have tasted is, by contrast, much more elegant and delicately perfumed than I find is the norm for Taurasi and Campania more generally. Yet, all the wines retain perfect typicity for each of the grapes – they just get so much more out of them than is the norm.
Quintodecimo is thus, in my view, elevating Campania, and particularly its whites, to the world class where the region clearly has the potential to belong.
Terra d’Eclano Aglianico 2012: As noted, this is extremely elegant Aglianico that can be consumed now or aged. It is extremely perfumed and has a delicacy that is uncommon. But it retains its power and density, filled with the typical red fruits, tobacco and minerals that marks great Aglianco. A blend of fruit from 5 vineyards. Aged for 12 months in oak (30% new).
Quintodecimo makes two higher end Aglianicos including a coveted Riserva, neither of which I have tasted and both of which I long to get my hands on given the quality of their ‘entry level’ bottling.
Excellent to Excellent+
$85 + tax at Kits Wine
Exultet Fiano di Avellino 2014: The texture and density of flavour in this Fiano is out of this world. Pouring a deep yellow (though not as deep as the Greco, due to the density of the polyphenols in the Greco), this Fiano is all citrus and honey, with great length. It is not a highly aromatic white – none of the trio really are – but it is a journey of texture, flavour and structure. The jury is out on whether the Fiano or the Greco is the best white from the estate.
The vineyard was planted in 2004 on calcareous and clay soils. Fermentation is in 70% stainless steel and 30% new oak, followed by 8 months on the lees.
$70 + tax at Kits Wine
Giallo d’Arles Greco di Tufo 2013: Here you get pear, apricot, spice and minerals. This is the most structured and tannic of the three whites. These are the oldest white vines at Quintodecimo, being planted in 2001. Harvested a couple weeks after the Fiano in general. Vinification is the same as the Fiano.
$70 + tax at Kits Wine
Via del Campo Falanghina 2013: The most aromatic of the three whites, this is much more tropical, with dominant pineapple notes alongside savory qualities. It doesn’t have quite the same level of density and structure as the Fiano and Greco, pushing it down a notch for me. Planted in 2004. Vinified the same as the other whites.
Very Good+ to Excellent.
$70 + tax at Kits Wine