For a couple of years now I've written about a Campanian grape that captured my affections, Tintore. We're lucky enough to have two wines on our list that contain this rarity. Both wines are from Luigi Reale, and his Borgo di Gete is one of the very few made entirely of Tintore.
Imagine my delight last evening when I saw a link, on Facebook courtesy of my amico Luciano Pignataro, to an article by Michela Guadagno, in which she reported on an event Wednesday called "Tintore Day". Here's the link to the piece, which is informative and thought-provoking if you read Italian.
I'll not attempt to translate the whole piece -- I've spent entirely too much time at the computer today and this week -- but I will pluck out some of the most interesting tidbits.
The headline makes it clear you're in a special place: Tintore is grown on a grand total of less than 10 hectares in the Amalfi Coast area (20 acres or a bit more), and just 8000 bottles are made in any given year by all the producers. And by "Amalfi Coast area" I should specify the little inland town of Tramonti, where Reale, Gaetano Bove and other protagonisti del Tintore have their wineries. This is verily the hometown of Tintore.
Guadagno devotes a long, dense paragraph to the roundtable presentation given by the enologo at Reale, our friend Fortunato Sebastiano. He described the history and characteristics of the grape, in effect explaining why several of the vineyards feature ancient vines (up to a century old): the variety is highly resistant to insects and mold; the grapes have thick skins which contribute to the dark color ('Tintore" means "dyer", hence its use as a coloring grape); and a bracing tannicity.
Fortunato, who studied with the famous and respected oenologist, Giacomo Tachis, traced the likely origins of Tintore to around 1800 AD. DNA analysis strongly suggests that Tintore is the "son" of Aglianico (masculine) and the related Tintora with its feminine flowers -- an autochthonous grape with a vengeance.
While the producers are pushing for DOC recognition for Tintore, this "local hero" is hardly known within its native zone, and it doesn't exist as far as the ampelographic powers that be are concerned.
Wines made with a large percentage of Tintore require 18-22 months ageing in wood. The rough tannicity is softened in oak, although my feeling is that these wines are released before they're ready. I understand the financial pressures small producers face, but a few more years' bottle time would benefit Tintore immensely. Reale's Borgo di Gete 2005 is only just now acquiring the tertiary characteristics that make for more than a simple, pleasant drink but, rather, a serious red that you can savor all evening long.
I'd like to see "Tintore Day" become a regular feature. Next time, though, I want to be there.
Michela Guadagno in another time, another place