When I started thinking about the time we would spend in southern Italy I decided I should get in touch with my blogging friend Paula at La Bella Sorella. Besides being an amazing cook and incredibly knowledgable about the cuisine of Italy, Paula (along with her husband) is an importer of Italian wine. I knew we needed some advice on this subject as we wanted to visit at least one winery during our stay.
After learning that we would be in Campania for a week Paula suggested that we plan a visit to Tenuta Fonzone located outside the town of Paternopoli, about an hour away from Calitri where we would be based. Our American friends who live in Calitri would be joining us and they suggested we give ourselves an hour and a half to get there-“always leave an extra half hour for getting lost” B. advised and she was right. We spent a good half hour looking for the winery while driving up and down hilly lanes amidst fields covered with vines. It was a good kind of lost though!
We were warmly greeted by Amadeo as we pulled into the winery right on time. While we were happily gazing off into the surrounding countryside, Amedeo gave us an introduction to the history of the winery. Founded in 2005 by Lorenzo Fonzone Caccese the winery is located in the heart of Irpinia. The area in the southern Apennines is one of hills, mountains, lakes and rivers-two of them bordering on the estate.
The Fonzone facility is quite modern and much of it is located underground which minimizes the effect on the landscape. The ground floor of the building houses the processing and the storage of the grapes. The grapes are fermented (vinified) in stainless vats and aged in French oak barrels.
We moved upstairs passing through a room where bottles are stored and then continued to the top floor where we enjoyed a tasting of the Fonzone wines along with the spectacular view of the estate . The winery produces seven types of wine-four whites and three reds.
The whites-Greco di Tufo, Fino di Avellino, Saquoia Irpinia and Irpinia Falanghina-are clean and crisp tasting. My favorite was the Greco di Tufo which is a grape that has been around since Roman times and is deep in color and displays a mineral freshness.
The wines were perfectly paired with a variety of foods prepared by the winery’s chef. We sampled local cheese with freshly baked bread and prosciutto, fried baccala, focaccia topped with roasted yellow tomatoes, fried balls similar to arancini but stuffed with a creamy pasta, and a fritter that I think had escarole for its filling.
Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite we moved to the dining table where we began the tasting of the reds-Irpinia Aglianico, Irpinia Campi Taurasini and Scorzagalline Taurasi Riserva. Amadeo was the perfect host explaining the properties of the wines to us as we dined on pasta with an herby pesto, a roulade of lamb with a mushroom sauce, a cheese course and finally a plate with a trio of desserts.
As someone who cooks for a living it is quite a treat for me to be on the receiving end of local specialties prepared by someone with such obvious love of food and talent. I feel the need to apologize to Amadeo as I fear that I made more of a fuss about the food than I did about the wine. Let me tell you that the wine was spectacular and the food only enhanced it’s flavors. Of course the Riserva was at the top of my list and I doubt that it’s a wine that I can find now that I am home in the states. Hopefully I might be able to locate either of the other two reds. Enjoying them with a bowl of homemade cingul‘ will have to do until I can make my way back to Irpinia.
Amadeo was assisted in this very special afternoon by the two people in the above photo. Unfortunately I don’t know their names, but the gentleman was ready at all times with a smile on his face to refill our glasses. I had asked for the chef to come out and meet us as I was so impressed by her food-brava!
When I returned home a friend asked me to name my top three experiences while in Italy. Our day at Fonzone was right up there. A very big grazie to Amadeo for spending the day sharing the winery with us and to Paula for arranging our visit.
If you happen to find yourself in the Avellino province of Campania I highly recommend a visit to Fonzone. Be sure to phone ahead and make a reservation.
Take a look in your local wine shop and if you see any Fonzone wines by all means treat yourself to a bottle or two.