Alois Winery: The Path to the Revival of Pallagrello and Casavecchia in Southern Italy

We are at the foot of Caiatini mountains in Upper Caserta, in the Campania region of Italy, close to the extinct Roccamonfina volcano and Volturno river, where nine hectares of land are surrounded by a natural amphitheater of hills. The presence of five volcanoes has restructured the landscape of the region and the prevalence of ignimbrite, a kind of volcanic rock that makes the region exemplary for viticulture. It is here where patriarch Michele Alois created his winery in 1992. Coming from an important family with centuries of involvement in the silk business, he took a different route with his life. He wanted to tend the land in the countryside and with just half a hectare of land with nine rows of vines in the historical estate from the Bourbon period, he took care of his vines with passion. He had the dream of reviving old forgotten indigenous grape varieties of the area and bottling them to wine. In the 1980’s, a group of winemakers rediscovered the indigenous varietals Pallagrello Bianco and Pallagrello Nero. Along with the two, Falanghina, Aglianico and Casavecchia were among the varietals that were planted by Michele. Years of experiments dedicated to local viticulture were conducted and by the year 2000, he pioneered in putting the first bottles of Casavecchia to the market. And in 2002, Casavecchia, Pallagrello Bianco and Pallagrello Nero were registered in the National Register of Grape Varieties.

One of the strongest voices in this part of Campania region is Alois Winery, wherein the family behind it has dedicated themselves to promoting the excellence of their territory. Michele’s son, Massimo, continues what his father has started and with his direction, the winery has heightened its research and production. Now, the estate has grown to 14 hectares with around 120,000 production of bottles annually. One of his most important projects was a study that identifies the main characteristics of the soil for the most suitable sites for the Casavecchia and Pallagrello vines. Based on this 10-year study conducted by Maurizio Boselli, professor of viticulture at the University of Verona, and oenologists Giovanni Piccirillo and Alessandro Fiorillo, Alois has come up with three cru wines where the grapes are cultivated in their most suitable vineyards. From the vineyards’ elevated position, the diurnal temperature variation and good ventilation play positive roles in attaining optimum grape maturation. The estate’s three geographical areas has varied soil compositions ranging from volcanic to calcareous with 380 meters asl as the highest altitude.

Vineyards:

Audelino Vineyard
This vineyard is located on a plateau that is naturally surrounded by an amphitheater of hills not far from the inactive volcano of Roccamonfina, from the Massive of Matese and the volcano Vesuvius. The soil is mainly volcanic with massive veins of tufaceous rocks. The wine coming from this terroir has an intense fruit and a mineral structure with firm yet elegant tannins.

Morrone della Monica Vineyard
This vineyard is located in the most easterly location in the foothills of Monte Friento and from the only site that faces south with a fairly strong exposure to the sun. It has the highest altitude of the estate, between 350 to 380 meters asl. As a result, the wines coming from this vineyard are full-bodied, generous and intense.

Cesone Vineyard
This vineyard is located at the western end of the Pontelatone Valley. The parcel is less than 2 acres of clay soil, with fertile unplowed topsoil. The grapes benefit from the morning sun with a fairly temperature change during night and day. The grapes used in the Trebulanum wine comes from the Cesone single vineyard.

Wines Tasted:

Caiati Pallagrello Bianco
Caiati is made with 100% Pallagrello Bianco that’s cultivated in the Casalicchio vineyard. Half of the grapes are fermented in stainless steel for 30 days and the other half are fermented on the lees in neutral oak for 90 days while aging takes place in both receptacles as well. Caiati Pallagrello Bianco 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2010. Starting the tasting with the youngest vintage until the oldest, Caiati revealed fascinating expressions of both olfactory and gustatory profiles, with freshness and long persistence. The 2020 has a concentrated broad and complex expression in the nose with a vibrant golden straw yellow color and freshness in the mouth that ends with slight bitterness. The 2019 has a lively personality, elegant, balanced and displays its thin journey of the citrus fruits in the mouth. The 2018 construes stability and has straightforwardness. The 2010 is a beautiful surprise, that at 12 years old, it was giving an amazing overall profile with floral aromas in the forefront, intermingling with ripe yellow stone fruits, vibrant golden straw yellow color and an ample palate that gives good acidity and sapidity.

Morrone Pallagrello Bianco
Morrone is made with 100% Pallagrello Bianco that’s cultivated in the Morrone della Monica vineyard in Pontelatone where the vines have 15 years of age. The fermentation takes place in stainless steel for one month for 2/3 of the grapes while the remaining 1/3 is fermented on the lees in neutral oak for 9 months and remains in the bottle for 12 months. Pallagrello Bianco 2020, 2019 and 2018. The wines from three different vintages show the excellence of the Pallagrello Bianco grown in the Morrone della Monica vineyard with interesting olfactory to the gustatory characteristics. The 2020 vintage gives crispiness of the fruits and freshness in the palate with a nose that has a beautiful delicacy of citrus fruits, prevalently grapefruit while the 2019 shows more strength and evolution in the nose with ripe melon, prints of citrus and fresh Mediterranean shrub. The 2018 opens with a broad olfactory range with ripe yellow stone fruits, hint of melon and spices with a palate that leaves a vein of freshness.

Pallagrello Nero Murella 2018
Made with Pallagrello Nero cultivated in Casalicchio. The maceration and fermentation takes place in large casks for 10 days while aging takes place in smaller wooden casks for two years and another 1 year in the bottle. Pallagrello Nero Murella 2018 has a ruby red color with a good expression in the nose of dark fruit aromas, undergrowth and notes of dry spices. In the mouth, the tannins are gripping and the finish is persistent.

Casavecchia di Pontelatone Riserva Trebulanum DOP 2017
Produced from 100% Casavecchia grapes grown in the Cesone and Audelino vineyards. Vinification takes place in large casks with the skins for 10 days, aging in smaller casks for 24 months and another 24 months in the bottle. Casavecchia di Pontelatone Riserva Trebulanum DOP 2017 has a vibrant ruby red color with an intense and ample olfactory characteristics of distinctive floral and ripe dark fruit aromas, dry spices and pepper with an enveloping mouth. It’s an excellent wine that takes out its personality now and will continue to fascinate in the years to come.

Alois

Address: Via Ragazzano Loc. Audelino, 81040 Pontelatone (CE), Italy
Tel: +39 320 8721769
Website: https://www.vinialois.it/alois/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cantinealois