Grotta del Sole Piedirosso dei Campi Flegrei (2010)

grotta_del_sole_piedirossoPiedirosso (literally “red feet”, for their red stalks) is a red grape native to Campania that’s more often used for blending than as a single varietal wine. It is, however, the sole grape in Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso, a famous red grown on the banks of Mount Vesuvius (but that’s another story for another time). This Piedirosso is grown in the Phlegraean Fields (Campi Flegrei), an area west of Naples that also features volcanic soil, but lacks the heights of Vesuvius.

A particularly interesting fact about this wine is that the grapes were grown on ungrafted root stock. For those that don’t know the history, in the mid-19th century, Europe was infested with Phylloxera, a parasite that sucked all the sap out of grape vines until they died. For a long time, it appeared that the wine industry could crumble, but it was eventually discovered that the aphid was native to the Americas, and must have come over with some transported plants. American grape rootstock was immune to the pest, so a grafting technique was created that allowed native European vines to grow on top of the American roots. As such, the vast majority of vines planted today in most European wine regions are grafted.

A good story, but irrelevant if the wine isn’t any good, of course. Piedirosso isn’t the most complicated varietal, but it is a quaffable red that’s a nice pairing for pizzas and simple tomato-based pasta dishes. (Not surprisingly, it tastes even better while staring out at the Mediterranean Sea.) At $15, this is a solid choice for those looking to try a new Italian grape. (For Piedirossos, I do prefer Mastroberardino’s Lacryma Christi if you can find it.)

Tasting Notes:

Plum, strawberries &  leather on the nose (almost a Sangiovese-like characteristic). Dark cherries and more plum on the palate, with some bitter, unsweetened tea. Velvety but a bit sweaty on the tongue. A bit of off-bitterness on the back-end, plus some artificial flavoring (hi-c grape?) that was the biggest flaw. Maybe even a touch of chocolate on the slightly lingering finish.