After collecting our bubbly Fiat 500 (L) in the deep south of Sicily and taking the time to explore parts of the rustic and rugged Calabria, it was then onwards and upwards into the heart of Campania.
With the only item in our diaries being lunch with Cantina in Irpino it seemed appropriate to get a few Campania-esque photos. A few side roads (that turned into side paths) later, we found ourselves confused on a random farm paddock and approached by a lovely Italian lady (who only spoke the one language) and also happened to be cousins with Daniela Di Gruttola from Cantina Giardino. Small world or town.
After voiding our car insurance policy, it was only appropriate to visit a local wine store to try take the edge off. In the town of Ariano Irpino was a quaint little bottle shop which we discovered was pouring 1.60 Euro Aglianico (red local grape) and Greco (white local grape) straight from the barrel. People were literally walking in with big empty water bottles and filling them up for their house wine. Seriously cool!
Following years of lauding their wines, it was now time to finally meet, the Cantina Giardino team. Daniela and Antonio De Gruttola have been making wine from historical grape varietals under their label since 2003. The company is backed by four friends and their cellar is still under the family house in Irpino. We were fortunate enough to get a tour of the cellar with Daniela, taking us through their history, photo albums and barrels of wine as we sipped. From Coda di Volpe to Greco, Fiano and Aglianico all with varying methods of maceration (time the juice sits on the grape skins) and ageing (chestnut vs amphora), each with their own story and character. The story of Cantina Giardino is humbling one, having come from small and a certainly risky beginnings to become a highly respected and sought after global brand.
After this special tasting it was time for a scrumptious feed of everything local with delicious food, wine and company. We sat around, shared a few stories and drank some sparkling Vino Bianco, Vino Rosato and some 2004 Aglianico reds. We could not have asked for a more authentic experience with one of our favourite winemakers and now friends.