While Biancolella is a native darling of the small island of Ischia, it is rumored to have been brought from Greece way way back in the 700s BCE. Whatever odyssey brought Biancolella here, the grape is now truly synonymous with Ischia’s best, (and highest!) vineyards. Complex, aromatic, full-bodied and yet fresh and crisp, Biancolella is not an acid-riptide but more of a saline seaspray. It is often blended with fellow island siren Forastera in quenchingly delicious Ischia biancos.
The Campanian island of Ischia is like a tiny volcanic gemstone steeply poking almost 2,600 ft straight up out of the Tyrrhenian sea. This 18 square mile isle just off the coast of Naples was forged by volcano and tectonic uplift, and while the last eruption here was in 1302, the island is a tuff and ash testament to its pyroclastic origins. The vineyards all over the island are influenced not only by these soils, but also by the proximity to the sea, the steep slopes and the considerable elevation. While the beaches are stunning, the island is also a fortress of steep rugged terrain. As local legend Pasquale Cenatiempo says, Ischia wine is mountain wine. Pasquale inherited the winery his father began in 1945, and today he farms his own vineyards organically with his partner Federica Predoni. The winery sources from neighboring vineyards as well, so that all of Ischia is represented, from sea level all the way up to 2,000 ft. This bottling of Biancolella comes from sites ranging from 150 to 1,000 ft above sea level, and it is vinified in old school concrete tanks.
There’s a sun-kissed golden tinge to this beauty, and tastes (and feels) just like hiking on a coastal bluff- breathe deep that salty air on wet rocks over the dizzying heights. That sea breeze has just a hint of orange blossoms and a whole fistful of fresh cut oregano and tarragon. There is a serving of grapefruit alongside all that salty zest, and a richness like honeycomb without any of the sweet. Even though the beach may be closed, this wine is that perfect day at the ocean, a message in a bottle.
Limoncello is a Campanian staple, originating on the Amalfi Coast and its islands; a summer yellow celebration of the sun and the copious citrus harvest in this Mediterranean climate.