Seize the day: Campi Flegrei Astroni

by Antonella Amodio 06/27/17
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Cogli l'attimo: Campi Flegrei Cantine Astroni

The Cantine degli Astroni estate is a magical and unique place that extends on the outer slopes of the natural Astroni Crater, in the Campi Flegrei DOC appellation. 

Campi Flegrei is one of the most unique archeological areas in Italy, one that maintains its deep and ancient suggestive character despite the brutal urban expansion. Here history, legend, myth and mystery come together in a changing, sweet, tormented and intriguing landscape.

Campi Flegrei, in fact, is an exceptional example of “nature and art” and its beauty has captivated the eyes of travelers throughout time. “An endless view of the land, sea and sky”– as Goethe observed – which reveals its identity in the minds of men with authentic images that go beyond the ancient and extraordinary landscape and manifests itself in other realities, like winegrowing.

This magic and unique place so full of suggestion is an ideal starting point for a wine-sensorial adventure set in an unmatched natural setting, where the magnificence of nature is evident not only to the eye but above all from the aromas that arrive in waves, mixed in with the salty air of the wind. One need only walk through the vineyards of Cantine degli Astroni to experience this, especially if your guides are enologist Gerardo Vernazzano and his wife Emanuela Russo, who are passionate about their land and experts on the phenomena that distinguish it. The Cantine degli Astroni estate extends on the outer slopes of the natural Astroni Crater in the Campi Flegrei DOC appellation area that includes the towns of Pozzuoli, Bacoli, Quarto and Monte di Procida.

For over 100 years, the Varchetta family has been producing wine there, protecting and enhancing the area’s biodiversity and focusing their attention in native varietals like Falanghina and Piedirosso Flegrei. One of their vineyards, which is around two hectares in size, is subdivided into small terraced parcels that are an integral part of the crater. It has been declared a WWF nature reserve and has been protected for centuries by surrounding walls dating back to when the Bourbon kings ruled Naples. The estate’s other vineyards are spread out on the Camaldoli Hill and others bordering with the town Quarto and Naples for a total of 25 hectares.

The composition of the soil in the vineyards was created by the last Flegrei eruption some 5,000-3,500 years ago that also created the lakes and Monte Nuovo as well as the bradyseism that today still distinguishes the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields): the rising and falling of the land caused by the inflation and deflation of a collapsed underground caldera.

The soil is thus full of fused eruptive materials and rich in silica, kaolin, chalk, sodium, potassium and other basic components along with yellow tuff stone and clay.

The wines produced from such a soil have a saline complexity and a high acidity which give them a propensity to age long. They have their own character and identity and are the image of an eternally changing landscape which is impossible to make a definitive portrait of.

To “seize the moment” in a sip of Cantine degli Astroni wine means to experience the history and comprehend the fury of the volcanic activity deep below the ground and discover the sacred and divine role of grapes.

The estate produces around 250,000 bottles of wine a year.

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