Il Pepella: the special vine of the Amalfi Coast

by Gerardo Russo

Pepella is a typical vine of Amalfi Coast. It can in fact be found in Tramonti, Ravello and Scala, among the Lattari Mountains. It owes its name to the characteristics of the bunch, made up of some normal-sized berries and many others very small, the size of a peppercorn.

Characteristics of the Pepella

The vine is very rare. It is found only in ancient vineyards and is usually planted with other native varieties of the Amalfi Coast, in steep areas, where historically it has been tried to use the little cultivable space wisely. It is assumed that its introduction into the Divina dates back to the late nineteenth century.

Making wine, here, on the cliffs of the Lattari, and in those small patches of earth torn from the rock, has always meant reaching a wise dosage between the grapes grown: a composition that had no fixed rules, but which from time to time were suggested by different results of the harvest.

(Nino D'Antonio; Amalfi Coast, wine villages; 2005)

The bunch of grapes is medium long, made up of grapes of uneven size. The difference in size in the berries is due toacinellatura, a phenomenon for which some grapes in a cluster remain small, while others grow regularly. The peel is yellow-green in color.

Its cluster is also sparse, that is open, with sparse berries. It therefore lacks density and compactness. The "social distancing”Of the berries, together with the thickness of the skins, made Pepella particularly resistant to botrytis, a dangerous disease of the vine. However, it has been abandoned by many winemakers, as it is susceptible to other diseases and due to the modest results in terms of production.

pepella vitigno tramonti
Pepella grown by the Monte di Grazia Organic Farm in Tramonti.

A sensory journey through wine

Pepella is a complementary grape variety. Together with other local varieties, such as Biancatenera, Biancazita and Ripolo, it contributes to DOC Amalfi Coast White, Tramonti and Ravello sub-areas. The wine is straw yellow in color with greenish reflections. It is also fruity on the nose, with notes of honey, apricot and exotic fruit.

The vine is able to communicate sensory emotions that then go beyond the tasting of the wine to which it contributes. Observing it is in fact a journey through time, admiring the resistance of an anomalous vine that does not give up on difficulties, but rather tries to make it its strong point. A small work of art created by nature through the heroic winemakers of the Lattari Mountains.

Tasting the wine produced through Pepella projects us into the vivid beauty of the Amalfi Coast. The flavors conquer the palate and the sense of smell, while we find ourselves defenseless in front of the wonder of nature.

Il Pepella: lo speciale vitigno della Costiera Amalfitana
Panorama of Tramonti, with the sea of the Amalfi Coast in the distance.

Among the many grains of the Lattari Mountains

Pepella does nothing but tell the territory through his own scattered berries. The Lattari Mountains in fact contain dozens of hidden gems in remote corners, between cultivations that have evolved in the most inaccessible places and climbing coastal villages between land and sea.

The mountain range of the Sorrento peninsula also prevented the generation of a high population density in the area, as happened in the neighboring territories, from Castellammare di Stabia to Cava de 'Tirreni. The mountain resorts and the Amalfi Coast are in fact a difficult to access territory, characterized by numerous peaks and majestic rocks that plunge overhanging into the sea.

Beauty and diversity are hidden among the curves of the roads that cross the Lattari Mountains. Many realities distant in their symbiosis: Amalfi, once a powerful maritime republic, the worldly Positano, fishing villages such as Cetara, i mythical paths and the mountain nuclei of Sunsets and Scala with a peasant tradition, among dairies, citrus groves and vineyards. Numerous grains, very small, small and large, all there in a single bunch to be admired in those rare moments that allow us to understand the whole.

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References:

Thanks toMonte di Grazia Organic Farm (Sunsets) for the images of Pepella.

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