A couple of friends, Warren & Erin, went on a trip to Italy 4 or so years ago. One of their stops was the breathtaking Amalfi Coast. Smartly, they hired a driver to show them the area, which included a stop at his friend’s winery–Marisa Cuomo. Warren was so impressed with the wines he thoughtfully brought a bottle back for me to try. I thought the wine was very interesting to say the least.
In researching the wines further, their estate vineyards are comprised of Dolomitic limestone on steep, rocky & terraced hillsides overlooking the sea–in Ravello & in Furore. The winery itself is located in the small town of Furore, which is located at roughly 2500 feet in elevation between the more famous towns of Amalfi & Positano. The panoramic view of the sea below is truly breathtaking. The very steep hillsides are terraced & the roads traverse the spectacular, formidable aspect. I was further intrigued because they championed heritage/heirloom vines–mainly Falanghina & Biancolella for the white wines & Pedirosso & Aglianico for the reds.
The vines are then trained on pergolas, which I imagine facilitates air circulation of cool ocean breezes at night to offset the heat of the day. As a side note, since we were there as they started to harvest, I was really shocked at how extremely low their yields naturally were, especially for the red wine grapes. I mean some bunches only had 6 to 10 grapes. When I asked, I was told this is normal–a combination of the really old vines grown on such extreme soils & conditions.
I next had the wine in Carmel, California a couple of years later at Casanova Restaurant. The wine sommelier there was kind enough to give me a contact name & information of the company who brings the Marisa Cuomo wines into the U.S.. To make a long story short the wines finally arrived here in the Islands 3 weeks ago. Here are 2 of their standouts.
2013 Marisa Cuomo Fiorduva–to date I was quite taken by their “Ravello” & “Furore” white wine bottlings. Both are comprised of the Falanghina & Biancolella grown in the Dolomitic limestone soils of the 2 sites. Ravello is at higher elevation (300 to 400 meters) & Furore at 250 meters. In 2014 Ravello is much more aromatic & perfumed with more refinement & an uplifting personality. Furore, on the other hand, is like a block of rock–liquid rock, with some sea spray qualities. This bottling, Fiorduva, in comparison, sheds a completely different light on what the vineyards want to say. The 2013 is a blend of 3 “below the radar screen” indigenous white grape varieties–30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra, 40% Ripoli & is vinified with soft pressing and fermentation at 12°C for about three months. This wine has much more viscosity than the other 2, seemingly produced from much riper grapes, probably hand selected grape by grape. The perfumed is very unique, but still one readily detects the rocky & saline nuances nonetheless. I have not had a white wine like this before, that’s for sure.
2011 Marisa Cuomo Furore Rosso Riserva–although I really enjoy the regular Furore Rosso bottling–so good, we just had to offer it by the glass at our VINO restaurant–their Riserva bottling is a real eye catcher. I would, in fact, picture this wine as a thoroughbred. A stallion, with lots of underlying strength & power, but effortlessly so. The 2011 is 50% Piedirosso (locally known as per ‘e palummo) and 50% Aglianico. The grapes are harvested when fully ripe and are destemmed and crushed before undergoing fermentation with intense maceration for 30 days, followed by malo-lactic fermentation and development 12 months in new French oak barriques. I get quite apprehensive whenever I hear NEW French. In this case, however, the oak is very well integrated & does not take away from the Italian-ness of this wine.