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swirl and savor

Vini del Cuore, Antonio Caggiano

Beth Ribblett

Our visit to Cantina Antonio Caggiano was a most amazing day, one that leaves an impression on your soul not easily forgotten. Because while the wines are some of the best of southern Italy and the area rustically beautiful, it is the man himself that makes this place so special. Architect, photographer, and wine producer Antonio Caggiano is one of the most charming, artistic, visionary people that I've ever met! He believes in living life to its fullest, adores women and has more love in his heart than 10 people. He spent the day with us and everyone was totally taken with him, even chef Richard and our friend/driver Vincenzo who helped interpret for the winery manager Angelo as they didn't speak much English.

The incredibly rustic and beautiful winery was designed and built by Antonio and his son Pino in 1990. Constructed to be harmonious with the look and feel of the landscape of the Taurasi region, they delved three floors deep underground to create the amazing and extensive cellars carved out of local stone. Every piece of furniture in the winery, including the light fixtures and railings are made from barrels, the tops and the metal rings that surround them. They also practice organic agriculture and using techniques that help to reduce their environmental impact on their prized Taurasi vineyards, all of which by law are planted with 100% Aglianico vines.

One of the other things that made our connection with him complete is that Antonio visited New Orleans in 2004 and absolutely fell in love with our city. As soon as he found out where we were from he put on a big smile and the mardi gras beads he had saved from his visit, and wore them both the entire day. He brought out his photo album with a menu from Herbsaint and lots of photos from his visit which was during mardi gras. He placed his hand on his heart and kissed his beads when he began to talk about New Orleans, It was his favorite city on his US tour.

I've been writing about his wines for a few years now as I discovered them on my first trip here in 2011, so I won't go in to the technical aspects that you can read in previous posts. But it was an amazing treat to share some of my favorite wines at lunch seated beside the man himself! We drank the 2012's of two of the whites named after photo expositions he did in the Sahara desert - Bechar Fiano di Avellino, and the arctic - Devon Greco di Tufo both of which were stunning and the 2009 of the Macchia dei Goti DOCG Taurasi which is an approachable but very young Aglianico. The real treat for me was the passito wine made with 50% greco and 50% fian, a beautiful, honey, appley, not to sweet dessert wine that I've never tried before.

We spent quite a bit of time there, as our four course "light lunch" was over 2 hours outside looking at the Aglianico vineyards. An incredibly comfortable relaxing afternoon with Antonio, Angelo, Pino and great friends that somehow ended with all of us smoking cigars...But it was just us, in the middle of nowhere in this gorgeous place with truly special people who love wine, food and life - I've always loved the Caggiano wines but now, knowing the man behind them, I'm a fan forever!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad