“Professor Rocco Cassano offers me the first glass of Aglianico of my life. The first is followed by the second. After the second, the third. The counting is soon lost. Second and more energetic hangover. Good wine is sold without a fraschetta.”

I always feel very much like the Italian writer Mario Soldati every time, driving solo, I head to the great wine lands Italy is so richly embellished with. Avellino Est is not a simple exit of A16, but a magic door that opens the way to an enchanted land: Irpinia. There are places on our beautiful planet where all the positive energies of the world magically converge. For the most pragmatic ones, let’s put it this way: it must be a corollary of the absolute gravitational law, which escaped even Einstein, and is yet to be discovered! To you scientists then, get down to work on it! In the meantime, we the helpless romantics, will continue to believe it is all about magic.

The mountain road unwinds for miles through the shades of winter that paints everything a warm and comforting pink. The air is getting cooler and all the more invigorating along the way. Time slows down, space curves, just as it happens near a strong gravitational field. The further I drive, the more it feels like going back in time, when everything was still untouched and devoid of all this technology which is sometimes a bit too intrusive. The mobile phone has no signal anymore, cars disappear, the houses disappear, there is only me with my thoughts and eyes full of wonder. Yes, today I feel very much like Mario Soldati.

Upon arrival I find Giuseppe to welcome me, fourth, fifth or sixth generation, it doesn’t matter, the Di Prisco’s have always been here. Giuseppe has mesmerizing eyes and an innate elegance that goes far beyond his polite manners and the refined look of today’s outfit. He greets me with his wonderful smile and starts off with his tales right away, between past, present, and future. So many projects, so much enthusiasm and so much love for the traditions of this beautiful and evocative land of his. We are in Fontanarosa, a few kilometers from the village of Taurasi, in the heart of Irpinia. Giuseppe shows me the landscape, the mountains, the history of this land and I remain enchanted and speechless. When the heart that speaks, silence makes it easier to hear its story.

You can’t see the sea from here, but you can catch a glimpse of its light, behind the Partenio mountains that overlook this wonderful land on one side and the Gulf of Naples on the other. I’ve never been up there, but I’m going to fill that gap as soon as possible!

“A rock on the horizon: this is how the island of  Procida appeared to the eyes of Abbot Giordano from Montevergine, the Balcony of Irpinia, , in 1649. A viewfinder towards infinity, a door on the immensity that frightens. It is the metaphor of the secular dialogue between inland and coastal areas, that thin bond that allows the sound of the sea, of the fishing boats and of the sailors of every age to reach our mountains”.

These are the words of Franco Iovino, president of the Partenio Park, from an article by Alfredo Picariello, virtuous pen of Irpinia News. Impossible to resist! Montevergine is already on my list!

The beautiful winery is undergoing some changes because there in not enough space is by now: Taurasi Di Prisco goes well beyond the mandatory aging time of at least three years, of which at least one in wood casks, as provided for by DOCG disciplinary. The rule given by Pasqualino, Giuseppe’s father and the undisputed boss of the winery, is to give Time to Time; the rule here is five years, thus renouncing to Reserve; or here it is all Reserve! It’s up to you! Time, “the moving image of eternity” according to Plato, the “relaxation of the soul” according to St. Augustine, the measure of change according to many, to the point of wondering whether time without change is conceptually possible. Therefore, Time flows according to its own rhythm here, without no forcing or acceleration: no barrique, only large wooden barrels.  This is how Taurasi capitalizes on the time it is given to explain itself with grace and soften its language without renouncing its austere strength; it acquires composure in its great structure, calm and firmness in the power of alcohol and tannin, depth and elegance in its complex organoleptic spectrum. 

We had fun playing with Time, Giuseppe and I, through a super vertical tastings in between future, present and past, in this exact order. The near future of the Taurasi 2017 amazes for its elegance and depth of nose and sip; the anterior future of 2019 is rebellious and exuberant with crunchy fruit and exotic spices; the near past of the Taurasi 2008, evolved and mature, elegantly glides along its downward parabola; and it is more in the past than the anterior past of the Taurasi 2003 has an impressive and youthful freshness and distinct saltiness! And the most incredible thing is that it is all here! Now! For many but not for all! For those who want to go to Fontanarosa and let Giuseppe lead them in this experiment of quantum physics where all is, always has been, and always will be.

All my gratitude goes to Franca De Filippis, extraordinary Chef of La Pergola Restaurant in Gesualdo, and to her husband Antonio Ferrante who pampered us with an exceptional pairing menu in this unforgettable sensory experience. Three Forks Gambero Rosso and Slow Food Snail, just so you know!

To wrap it all up, did you know that the celery of Gesualdo has become a Slow Food Presidium and that Gesualdo is among the most beautiful villages in Italy? This is Irpinia, with its charm, its gifts, and its magic, and among other things this beautiful land is just around the corner from the Amalfi Coast, one more reason to include it immediately in your list of trips that can no longer be postponed. It is already back on mine! I will return! Very soon!

Cantine Di Prisco
Contrd Rotole, 27
83040 – AV – Italia

Ristorante La Pergola
Strada comunale Freda, 35
83040 – AV – Italia