A glass of white wine, on background the sea of Massalubrense near Sorrento, Italy | Photo: tanialerro.art, via Shutterstock
Cheers! Raising our glasses in the canteens of the Coast
The lands of Massa Lubrense, Vico Equense and Sorrento, besides refined offerings of gastronomic products, also produces high quality wines and liquors that are famous, not only on the Sorrentine and Amalfi Coasts, but abroad as well. The sommelier of the Restaurant Vesuvio Massimo Migliorino, from Sant’Agnello, a small town near Sorrento, talks to us about where wine is born in his native land. A sommelier since 1997, after specialised studies at a school for Hotel and Restaurant Management and having received his professional certification from the Associazione Italiana Sommelier, as well as winning Best Sommelier of Campania 2000, he has collaborated with Restaurant Vesuvio for approximately one year.
Where does your passion for wine come from?
“For those of us born here, on the Sorrento Peninsula, it’s easy to end up working in the hotel industry. In 1997, I began studying to become a sommelier: a step, I would say, that came naturally, given my love for the subject matter. First, I had experience as a bartender and waiter. After studying and taking part in various competitions, I’ve been here at Hotel Mediterraneo for about a year.”
Who are the oldest producers on the Sorrentine Coast?
“In Sorrento, there are very few wine producers, here there are mostly citrus groves. But there are some that are really worth mentioning, such as the Cantina De Angelis, the Abbazia di Crapolla of Vico Equense that produces the wine we use in the restaurant, while we rely on Frantoio Ferraro for olive oil. For wines, actually, we look towards the Amalfi Coast, where the area is more favourable for production because of geographic reasons. In Furore, there’s the Cantine of Marisa Cuomo, Ragis Wines from the Vigne di Raito in Vietri sul Mare, whose bio red wine is a product I choose happily and in Ischia, there’s D’Ambra, since 1888. Among others on our wine list, we also use products from the Cantina Reale of Tramonti: the white, the red and the rosè and then there’s Lacryma Christi from the cantine of Villa Doria on the slopes of Vesuvio.”
What’s the most requested wine of your clients?
“Among the most important, there’s Greco di Tufo and Falanghina, but the true prince is the Fiano produced in Irpinia. We also get a great response to the Aglianico of Paestum and the biologically produced Falanghina from the cantinas in Salerno of San Salvatore and Barone.”
Sommelier Massimo Migliorino with any American customers at Ristorante Vesuvio with the Ragis wine from the Raito vineyards in Vietri sul Mare | Photo: © Massimo Migliorino
What are you looking for when you taste a wine for the first time?
“The delicacy of its fragrance. I’m careful to see that there is a return of the senses with the territory that it comes from, which allows me to understand if the product is enduring. Generally, the wines from the Coast and Irpinia are, but it always depends on the producer. Another preliminary element is the relationship between price and quality, which is almost always synonymous with longevity and therefore, quality.”
So how can you tell when a wine is of poor quality?
“In general, the wines of the South can have problems with freshness and acidity. Over the years, you test: you open a bottle once in a while and see how the wine is evolving.”
In general, which wines do you suggest for which kinds of occasions?
“I always suggest local products, in fact, 50% of the wines on the list at Vesuvio come from Campania. I often suggest the wines of Irpinia, tops in the region, then those from our Coast and the wines of Paestum. Actually, the choice of a wine to go with what you’re eating is really an Italian habit. Sometimes, it can be hard to match a wine with a plate when taking into consideration individual tastes. We mostly work during hot periods, so artisan beer is often the best choices for “aperitivi”. In Campania, there are more than twenty gourmet artisan beer producers.”
So you offer beer to those who aren’t huge wine fans?
“It depends. But other than wines, yes, we offer the artisan beers of the Birrificio Sorrento. There are different kinds of beer, for example, there’s one with lemon rind from Sorrento lemons which is left to ferment and infuse with the beer. Then there’s the Minerva beer, which is a great amber with a twist of orange. Then there’s a Stout with Sorrentine walnuts, which goes exclusively with deserts and, almost a tradition, every year at Christmas, there’s Astrum, a special spiced beer. These are local products reserved for the best restaurants. The cooperative Solagri certifies the lemon twists IGP to guarantee the quality, while the company Giardini di Cataldo uses products grown without pesticides and retardants. Important for the production of typical gastronomical products. We also offer spumanti from Campania: Asprinio from Aversa which is a competitor of prosecco and the classic method Dubl from Feudi di San Gregorio, an important product that can only be compared to a Franciacorta.”
Minerva, the top-fermented amber beer, made with orange peel by Birrificio di Sorrento | Photo: © Massimo Migliorino
What wine is your absolute favourite?
“The Quintodecimo by Luigi Moio of Mirabella Eclano in the province of Avellino, but I like to taste new things and discover new traditions.”
Regarding the Dubl of Feudi di San Gregorio which grows on the Irpine hills of Sorbo Serpico, Alessandro Palmieri, Italy sales network manager for the past 11 years, points out that the company creates the spumante as a means of narrating the local territory.
“I started as a sommelier and I also teach courses for the Associazione Italiana Sommelier, but it’s my work with Feudi that brings me to talk about the origins of the products, starting with the territory, that is Campania, particularly Irpinia. People want to know the roots of what we sell, not just the product from a technical point of view.”
Wines like Tufo Greco, Aglianico and Falanghina become a valid pretext to talk about a company that exports worldwide and boasts of a Michelin star for the Restaurant Marennà, and it isn’t just a coincidence that the wines of Feudi di San Gregorio are present in all markets globally.
“We also have e-commerce on our site, but we only offer products that aren’t available through traditional channels and come in special packages. Among our plans, are the opening of new restaurants, not only in Italy. In particular, next year, a new rosè wine will be available, a kind that is easily adapted to the palate and its a growing product, requested, above all, by foreigners.”
Alessandro Palmieri, Italy sales network manager for Feudi di San Gregorio | Foto: © @alepalmie