Greco di Tufo, the vine with twin clusters and a great personality

by Umberto Rusciano

Great freshness, good acidity, intense aromas: when tasting a Greco di Tufo it is impossible not to recognize its personality. It is produced by the namesake white grape variety and it is one of the 4 DOCGs (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin, the highest recognition of protection for a wine) from Campania. Precisely for this protection it is now possible to produce it only in some areas of the Avellino area, according to strict rules governing the quality of production. Thanks to its exuberant organoleptic properties, it is one of the few Italian white wines that lend themselves well and benefit from a long aging, procedure usually more inherent to red wines; it is also one of the best basic white wines for sparkling winemaking in southern Italy: according to the disciplinary in fact, the classic method sparkling wine version is allowed, a method that foresees the refermentation in the bottle and a rest on the production yeasts for at least 36 months.

Aminea Gemina, ancestor of the Greco di Tufo

Greco di Tufo
One of the characteristics is that many clusters are "twins", hence the ancient name Aminea Gemini (Photo of the company Cellars Of March)

The history of Greco di Tufo is very ancient. As the name suggests, the Greco di Tufo would have arrived on the Campania coasts during the Greek colonizations, brought by them from Thessaly and initially spread mainly in the Vesuvian area. Here the Greek grapes, called "Aminee", found the right pedoclimatic environment to grow and thrive. Among these there was a particular variety that had the peculiarity of producing numerous "twin", double clusters. From this it was given the name of "Aminea Gemina". This variety would be none other than our Greco di Tufo che has one of its most macroscopic characteristics in the presence of double clusters. In this regard, the ampelograph Ferrante in his "A vine of ancient nobility: Il Greco del Vesuvio or Greco di Tufo: (Aminea twin LGM Columella): ampelographic notes and winemaking experiences"Of 1927, he wrote:"There is no doubt that the variety known as Greco del Vesuvio or Greco di Tufo is the Amea Gemella, so highly esteemed in antiquity. The spread of it is in the same area that it occupied in ancient times, the traditional goodness of its wine and the biomorphological characteristics that have remained constant over the centuries. It is grown exclusively in some areas of the provinces of Avellino and Naples. It can be said to be unknown elsewhere“.

The arrival of Greek wine in Tufo, the birth of an idyll

The Greco di Tufo it owes its current name to Tufo, a small Irpinia town, which became an important mining site in 1866 when Francesco di Marzo, discovered numerous deposits of sulfur. This village in turn owes its name to the famous and homonymous mineral. The great presence of tuff and sulfur is well explained given thevolcanic origin of this territory, in fact, it is not rare to find sulphurous springs in Irpinia; the presence and constant contact with sulfur will also benefit the oenological movement, with the birth and spread of the "sulfur”Which allowed, through the use of sulfur on the vines, to protect them from harmful agents. With the commercial and industrial development of Tufo, the railway network expanded (it subsequently took the proper name of "wine railway”Due to the importance it had in the related activities) and more and more people moved there, taking with them the vines of that famous Greek wine of Vesuvius. A thriving industrial center, infrastructures, an excellent volcanic subsoil, these were probably the ingredients for the birth of an idyll which led Greco di Tufo to quickly become a unique wine with a thriving market: in the 19th century there was an estimated production of one million hectoliters. Greco di Tufo today is a wine exported and appreciated all over the world, a protected Campania excellence with a bright future.

Umberto Rusciano

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