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Montevetrano has emerged as Southern Italy’s top challenger to the “Aia” wines – Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Solaia…the Super Tuscan holy trinity. But how? It all began 25 years ago, in the shadow of Pompeii, when Silvia Imparato planted Cabernet on a volcanic hillside. When Robert Parker tasted the first wine, he nearly fell out of his chair, proclaiming it the Greatest Wine of the South, comparing them to Sassicaia! Parker nailed it from the start, and collectors snapped it up. A quarter century later, these wines still show hedonistic blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, kissed by sweet oak and hints of smoky graphite. Sourced from a pristine cellar, this utterly beautiful red is drinking marvelously and will improve for another 5-10 years.
About the wine
Montevetrano appeared out of nowhere to stun the Italian wine establishment in 1991. In the heart of Italy’s most conservative and ancient region, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the amateur winemaker and former photographer Silvia Imparato carved a new path. Her unconventional vision has pushed the region’s greatest wineries to unbridle their creativity and their ambitions. Her signature innovation was combining the volcanic power of the native Aglianico grape with the somber and regal Cabernet and Merlot – never before found in these Southern climes. The result was, and is, Southern Italy’s most distinctive and compelling red wine. Pure black fruit is infused with the soul of the area’s turbulent geologic history as the profoundly concentrated fruit flavors are augmented by sensations of smoke, coastal salt air and fresh herbs. The wine is simultaneously raw and regal – and in this release, Italian wine lovers have a rare opportunity to savor this statement at its absolute peak. Serve with special meals and enjoy with your Italian-loving amici.
Winemaker: Riccardo Cotarella
Appellation: Campania (Colli di Salerno)
- 98 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 96 pts: Wine Advocate (2010 Vintage)
- 96 pts: James Suckling (2013 Vintage)
- 95 pts: Wine Advocate (2007 Vintage)
- Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) – Gambero Rosso
- 4.1/5.0: Vivino Users (148 ratings)
- 4.1/5.0: Vivino Users, All Vintages (1428 ratings)
Grapes: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Aglianico
Vineyard: Montevetrano’s Estate “Vigna Carissima” Vineyard
Cooperage: 14 months in French Oak, 50% new.
About the winery
Montevetrano takes its name from a Roman-era castle on the Imparato family property. Owner Silvia Imparato was a famed photographer and privately, an admirer of great French Bordeaux – so when she decided to plant grapes on her land, she combined her passion and her ancestry – Cabernet, Merlot and the native Aglianico. Mountains surround this property and the vineyards have all of the south-facing land, creating a natural amphitheater which promotes very ripe grapes with flavors that burst. The volcanic soil here is rich and a reminder of the region’s storied past, and this soil ensures the land is abundant, with oaks, chestnuts, hazelnuts, citrus and olive trees flanking the vines and contributing essential complexity to the terroir. The entirety of the estate sits within the Monti Picentini Regional Park. This unique growing site creates one of the most distinctive and sought-after wines in all of Italy.
About the vineyard
Montevetrano sits in the heart of Italy’s most ancient wine region of Campania. Wine has something of a storied history in Campania. Falernian, a Campanian wine from the slopes of Monte Massico, was consistently discussed in Roman high society. Historical authors described as ”exceptional” the 121 BCE vintage, which sold for four times the normal price. Apparently the wine had extreme ageability, because the first review of it came almost a century after that historic vintage.
Campania has historically been known as a center of art, medicine and cuisine. Giotto, the Florence-based painter and architect from the late Middle Ages, painted several murals in Campania buildings that were later destroyed in an earthquake. One of Europe’s first medical schools was established in Salerno, where doctors were taught a combination of classic and European medicine, along with Arab practices. These practices were quickly adopted across Europe.
Food from Campania has more than made a name for itself. Three of Italy’s most famous dishes call Campania their home. Pizza was developed in Naples and has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become the world’s most-consumed food. The calzone was also developed in Naples and has become a favorite of pizzerias the world over. Perhaps less well known but no less delicious is the puttanesca sauce which also hails from Campania.
About the winemaker, Riccardo Cotarella
In Italy, he’s known as “The Wizard.” Riccardo Cotarella is a soft-spoken but standout talent in a country known for growing winemakers. He consults for wineries north to south, and even into France – unheard of for an Italian. Such is the scope of his influence and reputation for excellence in an innovative, modern style of winemaking. A son of a winemaker from the Umbria/Lazio border in Central Italy, Cotarella traveled widely and began to suspect that Southern Italy’s great climate and soils held untapped potential. So he began to concentrate his efforts there, working to improve vineyard practices and winemaking technique. The high scores soon began to follow, confirming his suspicions. Cotarella isn’t afraid to experiment and even for all his unorthodox behavior, he’s still widely loved by the traditionalists, too – even the Vatican orders Cotarella wines. If it’s good enough for the Pope…!
98 points, Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Impressive depth and density from this highly acclaimed 'Super-Campanian' blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Aglianico. Tart black plum and black currant meet evolved aromatics of dried tobacco, leather, black licorice and dried fig. The chewy, powerful texture carries the impressive structure effortlessly. Sophisticated with its evolved aromatics and compelling spice, polished fine-grained tannins, layered dark fruit, and an elegant, expansive finish; what a pleasure! Enjoy this bold blend with roasted beef or grilled lamb to accentuate the earthy aromatics and give the toothsome texture something to sink in to."
96 points, Wine Advocate (2010 Vintage)
"The 2010 Montevetrano is flat-out gorgeous. Vibrant, floral aromatics lead to layers of beautifully delineated fruit in this finely sculpted chiseled Montevetrano. A wine of extraordinary beauty, the 2010 impresses for its clarity and nuance. I don’t think I have ever tasted a young Montevetrano with this much pure silkiness and finesse. There is a level of precision and delineation in the 2010 that is truly marvelous. I can’t wait to see how it ages. The 2010 is also notable for a much higher percentage of Aglianico (30%) than has been common in the past, while the international varieties are less prominent in the blend. In 2010 Montevetrano is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Aglianico and 20% Merlot, which means the Cabernet Sauvignon now plays a much smaller role in the blend."
96 points, James Suckling (2013 Vintage)
"This is a famous red that delivers depth and finesse. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a wonderful finish of blackberry, cocoa and spices including black peppercorns. One of the best Montevetranos in years. A blend of aglianico and merlot. Drink or hold."
95 points, Wine Advocate (2007 Vintage)
"The 2007 Montevetrano is simply wonderful in this vintage. An array of ripe dark fruit, grilled herbs, bacon fat and menthol emerge as this opulent, soft-textured red shows off its undeniably appealing personality. The wine continues to gain volume and depth in the glass, leading to an impeccable, classy finish. Usually Montevetrano is shut down at this point in its life, but the 2007 is unusually open. It is also amazing to note how domesticated the Cabernet Sauvignon planted here has become. Readers should do what they can to experience this drop-dead gorgeous Montevetrano!"