One can tell from the very word, Forastera. Grapes that come from elsewhere (fuori, in Italian), i.e. forestiera. Certainly, of one were to take a broader, say American viewpoint, it would be difficult to say grapes that have been grown on terraces held up by paramine, dry masonry walls made from green volcanic rock, for more than 150 years are foreign, but Europeans are conservative. This white was introduced because, history repeats itself, it was considered superior to the delicate Biancolella that has always been grown on Ischia, Capri, and part of the Amalfi coast.
The current obsession for single-varietal wines led to its rediscovery, not as a partner, but as a soloist. The discovery was made by Casa D'Ambra a few years ago, and now Pietratorcia, the beautiful winery surrounded by olive trees, prickly pears, and Mediterranean scrub forest founded in 1966 by the Iacono, Verde e Regine families, has joined them.
Every time I visit these vineyards, surrounded by sea and sky, I feel as if I'm in an as-of-yet unexcavated archaeological site: columns, statues and pot shards stick up from the soil; the culture of the farmland that for centuries slaked Naples's thirst is very evident. There were 3,000 hectares of vineyards in 1900, and now less than 400. Forastera interprets the Campania Style that almost all the winemakers have by now adopted: Freshness up front, savory, no sweetness. They complement the foods, the flavors, and the volcanic lands or the area that are in perpetual ferment, making the island and the nearby Campi Flegrei the perfect setting for disaster films that couldn't do a better job of bringing together day-to-day life and Hephaestus 's brutal power. Pietratorcia's history is that of the recovery from a shadowy subculture of illegal construction and easy earnings from tourism that sapped people's will to cultivate the land, and drove them away from toil, the southern term for work. They could have fermented other people's grapes, but they decided to start from the ground up, replanting grapes at Chignole and Cuotto, while Gino studied winemaking at San Michele all'Adige.
Now the winery's primary wines are two blends, Tenuta Chignole (biancolella, forastera and fiano) and Tenuta Cuotto (biancolella, forastera e greco), in which the two foreign grapes of Irpinian origin confer, in the former, aromas, and in the latter acidity. Then there are the two single-varietal wines, Biancolella and Forastera. I decided to speak of the latter here because I want this varietal, unknown outside Campania, to enjoy the Garantito IGP limelight because it embodies biodiversity, essentiality, and elegance, and also has an extraordinary quality/price ratio.
A white wine of conviviality, to pair with the simple seafood cooking of the island, raw fish and fish carpaccio marinated in lemon juice, or pasta with legumes, especially peas and chick peas.
The winery is on the Via Provinciale Panza, 267 Tel.081.908206 www.pietratorcia.it 12 hectares. Winemaker: Gino Iacono. Production: 180.000 bottles Varietals: biancolella, forastera and fiano
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.