Discovering the Charm of Campania with Quintodecimo

Discovering the Charm of Campania with Quintodecimo.

Italy is renowned as a leading wine-producing nation, boasting a rich array of indigenous grape varieties. While names like Sangiovese in Tuscany or Nebbiolo in Piemonte may be familiar, the vast selection of grapes for high-quality wines might be initially overwhelming. Yet, once you encounter truly exceptional wines, you’ll be irresistibly drawn into the enchanting world of indigenous grape varieties.

In this article, we are immersing ourselves in Campania, Italy, alongside a winery dedicated solely to crafting high-quality wines from indigenous grapes. Established by a highly respected enology professor and consultant in Campania, Quintodecimo stands out as a beacon of excellence.

Recently, we had the chance to interview Chiara Moio, an enologist in the winery and the daughter of Luigi Moio, the mastermind behind these remarkable wines. This article aims to explore Quintodecimo’s origins and philosophy while also providing tasting notes for four outstanding wines.

Unveiling the history of Quintodecimo

The story of Quintodecimo, initiated by Luigi Moio and his wife Laura in 2001, spans a mere 23 years, yet its significance is profound thanks also to the extraordinary passion of his wife Laura. The family’s winemaking legacy stretches back 70 years to Luigi’s father. Growing up amidst the vineyards, Luigi’s journey into oenology began at the age of 14. Remarkably, he ascended to a professor at the University of Naples at the age of 40. Alongside academia, Luigi has served as a consultant for numerous wineries in Campania.

A pivotal moment in Luigi’s educational path occurred during his studies in Burgundy, where he delved into the intricacies of Pinot Noir aromas for his Ph.D. program. He was attracted to the purity and elegance of Burgundy style, and making his own elegant wines in his motherland became his dream. Despite his ongoing dedication to teaching oenology at the university, Luigi harbored a dream of crafting wines infused with his vast knowledge. With a primary focus on vineyard management to achieve the highest quality grapes, Luigi aimed to produce elegant Burgundy-style. 

Thus, Quintodecimo was born in Mirabella Eclano, nestled in the heart of the Taurasi Appellation, boasting 34 hectares of vineyards meticulously tended to by Luigi and his team. 

Luigi Moro and his Family at Quintodecimo.

Campania’s Taurasi Appellation

Let’s look closer at the Taurasi DOCG in Campania and its grape varieties. Campania is situated in the south of Lazio, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Apennine Mountains. It enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, but the altitude—Quintodecimo’s area sits at 400-500m, while generally ranging from 200-600m—brings a cooling influence from the mountains. This cooling effect is crucial for preserving the wines’ refreshing acidity, contributing to their elegance. It is also a less affected area by climate change thanks to the microclimate. The region’s soils, shaped by the volcanic Mount Vesuvius and centuries of erosion, consist of complex compositions such as limestone, clay, sandstone, and volcanic elements. Coupled with the appropriate rainfall, these conditions create an optimal environment for cultivating distinctive indigenous grape varieties. In Campania, the Taurasi DOCG appellation primarily utilizes Aglianico (red), Greco (white), and Fiano (white) grape varieties. Additionally, in the broader Irpinia DOC appellation, Faranghina (white) is planted extensively.

Quintodecimo’s Philosophy

Luisi’s fascination with grape purity inspired him to produce wines using 100% grape varieties, striving to fully unleash their potential despite regulations allowing the use of additional varietals. This clear-cut approach aims to highlight the highest quality of grapes to express their purity while at the same time experimenting. The primary objective is to obtain intact and mature fruit. Only the finest grapes are selected through green harvesting, with each parcel meticulously hand-harvested and sorted. As a result, an astonishingly limited number of bottles were produced – 2019 bottles for single vineyard crus, with 1-2 hectares, in 2018.

Additionally, Quintodecimo genuinely focuses on expressing the terroir through each indigenous variety and cultivates wines with two different concepts. For example, in the red realm, Quintodecimo produces three wines exclusively made with 100% Aglianico grapes sourced from the Taurasi area. Two cru wines classified under Taurasi DOCG, adhere to the Burgundy concept, focusing on single parcels to showcase purity. Conversely, another wine classified under the broader Irpinia DOC region examines the Bordeaux concept by blending wines from multiple parcels to achieve complexity. 

Campania, Home of the Aglianico Grape.

Tasting wines of High-Quality

Chiara guided us through a tasting of four of Quintodecimo’s wines, one white and three red. Join us for our observations and ratings. 

2022 Greco di Tufo DOCG ‘Giallo d’Arles’ | 100% Greco

Greco is an ancient Greek variety that means yellow, akin to Gri grape. This is a white wine with the structure of a red wine, powerful and refined. Without fining, the wine has an orange color, with more phenolic compounds. So, wine-making options are chosen to express its nature by hand-harvesting, cold soaking for 24-48 hours, fermentation 70% in stainless steel tanks, and 30% in new oak barrels. New oak is not used for the aroma/flavor but to stabilize the texture.

The wine displays a medium golden color, followed by a fruity nose, with notes such as apricot, pear, green apple, and lemon peel, all uplifted by a touch of hazelnut and almond, a hint of smoke and spices. Its structured and textured palate counterbalances the fruit concentrations. A mineral palate that leads into an impressive long finish with apricot or quince flavors.

We award this Greco di Tufo with a 94-point DWA score – Drink 2023-2032.

Quintodecimo’s Wines and our Ratings.

2020 Irpinia DOC Aglianico ‘Terra d’Eclano’ | 100% Aglianico

Despite its classification as an entry-level wine, the 2020 Irpinia DOC Aglianico ‘Terra d’Eclano’ distinguishes itself with exceptional quality and approachability. Sourced entirely from Aglianico grapes, this wine is crafted from a special selection harvested from five distinct estate vineyards in the renowned Taurasi area. Each vineyard contributes uniquely to the grape’s profile due to varied soil types and exposures, enhancing the wine’s complexity.

The meticulous selection process, which yields only 1kg of grapes per vine, and the aging protocol—12 months in oak barrels, a third of which are new, followed by 12 months in the bottle—ensures a wine with a rich texture and profound structure. This careful aging is shorter than the typical Taurasi DOCG requirements, aiming to produce a wine that is more immediately enjoyable while still possessing the potential for aging.

On the nose, ‘Terra d’Eclano’ offers a seductive bouquet of ripe blueberry, red plum, and blackberry mingled with hints of cloves, dried herbs, and a whisper of licorice and coffee. The palate is immediately engaging, presenting a juicy, plum-laden experience, supported by powdery tannins and vibrant acidity. Its structure is both generous and refined, revealing layers of savory undertones, toasted spices, and a touch of caramel. The finish is long, underscored by a refreshing minerality and subtle balsamic notes, making it not only balanced but also deeply enchanting.

With its high complexity and robust structure, the Quintodecimo 2020 ‘Terra d’Eclano’ showcases the varietal’s intrinsic qualities and exemplifies how Aglianico can achieve elegance and expressiveness when expertly handled. Approximately 16,000 bottles of this captivating wine were released, each promising an extraordinary potential for long-term aging, adding a collectible appeal to its many delights.

We award this Aglianico DOC with a 93-point DWA score – Drink 2023-2028.

2018 Taurasi Riserva DOCG ‘Vigna Quintodecimo’ | 100% Aglianico

The 2018 Taurasi Riserva ‘Vigna Quintodecimo’ represents the pinnacle of precision in viticulture and enological craftsmanship at Quintodecimo. Originating from the first vineyard planted by the estate in 2001, this wine is a testament to the rich, clay-limestone soils that grace the northwestern slopes of the estate, positioned at an altitude of 420 meters with a significant slope of 25%. This challenging yet beneficial topography, combined with a high vine density of 5,000 plants per hectare, nurtures the Aglianico grapes to a remarkable intensity.

Aged meticulously for 24 months in new oak barrels and an additional 24 months in bottles, this wine develops a profound structure and complexity. It emerges with a deep ruby hue, radiating a bouquet of back berry, blueberry, and plum, intricately woven with threads of exotic spices, violet, rose, and dried herbs. The palate is a seamless fusion of power and finesse, structured by refined tannins and high acidity, which are beautifully integrated, expressing a harmonious balance.

The 2018 vintage was shaped by a cool growing season, punctuated by challenging rainfalls, yet concluded with a hot summer, allowing the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness. This careful management of climatic challenges reflects in the wine’s aromatic intensity and seductive class. Notes of Spanish cedar, campfire ash, and a backdrop of savory tannins contribute to its complex profile.

Despite its current youth, this wine is poised for extraordinary longevity. It is expected to reach its peak within the first twenty years of cellaring but will retain its distinguished character for many years beyond. With just 2,129 bottles produced, the 2018 Taurasi Riserva ‘Vigna Quintodecimo’ is not only a collectible but a splendid illustration of what the Aglianico grape can achieve under expert hands in a revered terroir.

We award this Taurasi Reserva DOCG with a 97-point DWA score – Drink 2023-2043.

2018 Taurasi Riserva DOCG ‘Vigna Grande Cerzito’ | 100% Aglianico

The 2018 Taurasi Riserva DOCG ‘Vigna Grande Cerzito’ emerges from a singular hectare of Aglianico vines, meticulously planted in 2004 on the south-facing slopes of the estate. The vineyard’s unique volcanic soil—composed of ash and pumice—lacks limestone, providing exceptional drainage and a rough texture that ensures an abundant supply of oxygen to the roots. Situated at an elevation of 440 meters with a mild 15% slope, the dense planting of 5,000 vines per hectare is expertly managed using a cordon spur training system, all of which contribute to the wine’s distinct profile.

Similar in vinification to the esteemed Quintodecimo Reserva, ‘Vigna Grande Cerzito’ distinguishes itself through its extraordinary terroir. The wine is known for its deeper concentration of ripe black fruits like black plum, blueberry, and black cherry, beautifully interlaced with layers of dried herbs, violet, and rose petals. The palate is further enriched by pronounced spice and oak influences, including clove, cider, and vanilla.

This Taurasi Riserva is bone-dry and boasts ample, powdery tannins that, along with its spicy undertones, benefit greatly from aeration, revealing a perfect harmony even at its youthful stage. The mouthfeel is robust yet refined, leading to a long, lingering finish that promises evolution. As it matures, the wine is expected to unfurl additional layers of complexity, adding fresh notes of mint, eucalyptus, and incense to its already sophisticated profile.

The 2018 release is remarkably balanced, with a dense textural foundation that supports an intense bouquet interwoven with black fruit, spice, tar, and toasted oak. The slightly drier tannins and streamlined mouthfeel are precisely what allow this wine to develop into a more elegant and refined expression over time.

With its profound structure and capability for great longevity, the 2018 ‘Vigna Grande Cerzito’ is a quintessential example of what makes Taurasi one of the most revered wines for collectors. Limited to just 2,129 bottles, this vintage not only offers immediate appeal but also an impressive potential for aging, making it a prized addition to any connoisseur’s cellar.

We award this Taurasi Reserva DOCG with a 96-point DWA score – Drink 2020-2040.

Conclusion: Commitment and Experimentation

Luisi Moio’s vision is steadily materializing, and it’s evident that Quintodecimo wines shine not only as expressions of indigenous varieties but also as contenders against globally renowned super-premium wines. Their unwavering commitment to quality is evident: if a wine doesn’t meet their high standards, they prefer not to produce it rather than relegating it to a lesser status. This dedication spans from their top-tier cuvées, known as crus, to their DOC wines.

Moreover, Aglianico and Greco possess exceptional aging potential, with their true greatness unfolding after two decades, as noted by Chiara. This longevity adds another layer of appeal for wine enthusiasts seeking something extraordinary. Additionally, building on their decades-long focus on showcasing the purity and unique characteristics of each grape variety, Quintodecimo has embarked on a new venture: crafting a top-tier white cuvée by skillfully blending Greco, Fiano, and Falanagina for the perfect balance, which also getting high reputations. Quintodecimo and their wines demand our attention, captivating us with their unwavering pursuit of excellence.

Quintodecimo is imported in the Netherlands by Vinites and is available through selected retail and hospitality partners. We thank Chiara Moio for her time, the interview, and Vinites for providing the wines. This article is written by our own Kazumi Uejo. Picture Credits: Quintodecimo and Dutch Wine Apprentice.