Some people can reroute their lives to what their hearts dictate later in life like in the case of Lorenzo Fonzone Caccese, a surgeon who founded Fonzone Winery in 2005. In the core of Irpinia, he found a piece of land that spans thirty hectares on a hill in the countryside of Paternopoli that stands in the province of Avellino, in the southern Italian region of Campania. A land of great wines, Irpinia includes the three Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) sites: Taurasi, Greco di Tufo, and Fiano di Avellino. The modern winery of Fonzone dominates the breathtaking landscape punctuated by vineyards of Aglianico, Falanghina, Fiano and Greco.
The dream was to cultivate native varieties to produce eight sartorial wines that tell the love and respect for the territory in the glass, but also the value for precision viticulture aimed at a very high quality production that the family has always shared. Fonzone embraces the sustainable approach both in the vineyards and in the cellar. This results in the creation of wines defined with their aromas and longevity following the course of nature and preserving biodiversity. Today, the new generation of the Fonzone Caccese family represented by Lorenzo’s children and their respective wives, has taken up the baton demonstrating that the journey that their father started, in search of excellence continues. Their annual production is at 110,000 bottles, 30% of which are exported and 70% remains in the Italian market.
“We are a big family united by a common dream,” says Silvia Campagnuolo Fonzone, “that of making wines capable of telling the story of Irpinia and its extraordinary vines. Lorenzo Fonzone, in addition to his passion for wine, has passed on important values to us such as commitment, precision, order and respect for nature. We want to treasure these teachings and follow in the footsteps he traced then pass on this precious legacy to our children. We have chosen to make wine and to do it well, with care and love.“
The symbolic varieties of Irpinia are grown on the 30-hectare estate: Aglianico (about 12 hectares), Fiano d’Avellino (2 hectares), Falanghina (3 hectares) and Greco di Tufo (1.5 hectares). The method of viticulture is organic thus no herbicides are used in the vineyards and the soil is treated only with organic fertilizers and green manure. To promote biodiversity as much as possible, the space between the rows is managed with the technique of grassing over spontaneous plants. The balance between legumes, grass and other species is regulated with mowing, and herbaceous essences have been planted in the border areas to offer the ideal habitat for pollinating insects. The organic viticulture is accompanied on this journey by the renowned consultant oenologist Luca D’Attoma, pioneer of organic viticulture and great expert in biodynamics. Following his guidelines in the cellar is oenologist Francesco Moriano.
“Such an extraordinary territory needs expert hands to enhance its characteristics,” says Silvia Campagnuolo Fonzone, “and this is why we have chosen to rely on the expertise and talent of a great winemaker like Luca D’ Attoma. His philosophy is to explore, experiment and enhance vines and territories to create unique wines with intuition and foresight.”
The hill on which the winery stands is located in the Campi Taurasini sub-area and is surrounded by the municipalities of Villamaina, Castelfranci and Gesualdo. The vineyards extend on both sides of the hill, benefiting from multiple exposures and an altitude that varies from 360 to 430 meters above sea level. The hill includes both clayey-calcareous soils and some with looser textures, of clear sedimentary origin, and is surrounded by Fredane and Ifalco streams, which influence the microclimate characterized by strong temperature variations between day and night. Furthermore, given the proximity to Vesuvius, there is volcanic dust in the subsoil, deposit of the eruptions that took place over the centuries. The estate is completed with the vineyards located in San Potito Ultra, Parolise, Altavilla Irpina and Montefusco with altitudes that reach a maximum of 650 meters above sea level.
On a tasting of the wines of Fonzone, Silvia Campagnuolo Fonzone brought five of the company’s wines that were paired with the dishes created by Chef Davide Pulejo. Focused on the characteristic representations of the wines, the chef’s proposals have created a delicious marriage between glass and plate. The technical approach to raw materials and the perceptible depictions of flavors were true masterpieces of culinary execution. Pulejo was opened in March 2022 by Davide Pulejo with the desire to welcome, rediscover and remember, where memory is central both for the purpose of bringing back familiar tastes as part of welcoming diners to a warm environment. In 2023, just a year after opening, the restaurant received a Michelin star.
Le Mattine Irpinia Falanghina DOC 2021
The range of white wines of Fonzone starts with Le Mattine, produced with 100% Falanghina grapes from vineyards in the Le Mattine district. The area has sandy-clayey soil located at 380 meters asl near the Ifalco stream. The grapes were harvested in three diverse periods from September then onwards. The maceration of the different masses takes place in amphorae then assembled in steel vats afterwards. It goes through malolactic fermentation. In the glass, it has distinctive aromas of almonds, stone, exotic fruits and fresh herbs while on the palate, it gives a pleasant lingering freshness with notes of pastries, balance and roundness as it persists long in the mouth.
Greco di Tufo DOCG 2021
Obtained from 100% Greco with vines ranging between 23 to 33 years old, cultivated in the Altavilla Irpina and Montefusco vineyards with clayey-tuffaceous-calcareous soils along steep slopes between 650 and 450 meters above sea level. The bunches are hand-picked and transported to the cellar in small perforated boxes then they are pressed softly. Fermentation is carried out at low temperatures in steel vats for about a month then aged in steel for five months on the lees with periodic batonnage. The result is a straw yellow color with an intense nose of apricot, melon and orange blossoms while flavors correspond with the nose, with creaminess, freshness, ends with slight bitterness and warmth.
Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2021
Obtained from 100% Fiano cultivated in the vineyards located at San Potito Ultra with clayey soil at an altitude of 500 meters asl at a southern exposure. The grapes go through long and short-term macerations in amphorae and steel, softly pressed. Fermentation is carried out at temperatures between 14 to16 degrees for about a month. At the end of fermentation, the masses are assembled and aged in steel for eight months at temperatures below zero, on fine yeasts. The result is a straw yellow color with an intense nose of yellow flowers, orange blossoms, stone, lemon zest and green almonds while on the palate it has a pronounced freshness and sapidity with concentration of flavors and long persistence.
Sequoia Fiano di Avellino DOCG Riserva 2020
Obtained through a selection of Fiano grapes from vineyards of one of the top growing zones of the designation, Parolise, at an altitude of 500 meters asl. It has an ideal climate and sandy-clayey soil interspersed with stones with southern exposure. After harvest, the grapes are quickly transported to the cellar where four batches are created for four different methods of maceration: the first three in stainless steel in diverse time frames of 12 hours, 3 days while the third skips maceration. The fourth batch is macerated and aged in large, lightly toasted French oak barrels for 12 months. Subsequently, the four batches are blended in stainless steel tanks where they continue aging on the lees for 6 months. Aging continues in the bottle for 4 to 5 months. An excellent representation of Fiano di Avellino which conveys elegance and the maximum of its aromatic characteristics. Straw yellow in color going towards golden, with an intense and complex nose of white flowers, orange blossoms, citrus peel, white peach and a hint of winter melon while in the palate the freshness is pronounced, sapid and crispy white fruit linger, as it finishes with persistence.
Oikos Greco di Tufo DOCG Riserva 2020
Obtained from Greco from vines of more than 40 years old of a rare clone with smaller grapes compared to the traditional ones which produce juice with more concentration. The vineyards at Altavilla Irpina have clayey soil with tuff sediments and underlying sulfurous veining, at an altitude of 450 to 650 meters asl with southeastern exposure. The grapes are hand-picked and pressed softly. The fermentation and aging take place in 25-hectoliter Austrian oak barrels for 12 months, then aging continues in steel vats for another 12 months and another year in the bottle before its release. The result is golden straw yellow going towards a darker shade, with an intense and complex nose of stone, melon, ripe yellow stone fruits and nutmeg. On the palate, there’s concentration of flavors with pronounced acidity and sapidity as it ends with light bitterness and an aftertaste of dried flowers.