TEXT AND PHOTOS BY CESARE ZUCCA
Campania Region, Italy.
Torrecuso is an enchanting medieval ‘borgo’, that offers a suggestive view of the Taburno and the Valle del Calore. Its origins date back to 216 BC, probably on the initiative of some Etruscan refugees from the Tuscan town of Chiusi who called it “TurrisClusii”.
Today is a small village characterized by narrow, winding streets, which surround the square on which stands the splendid Palazzo Cito, adapted into an ancient tower; the building was the residence of the feudal lords of Torrecuso and today is the town hall.
The soil is sunny and lends itself well to growing grapes; here is produced the Aglianico del Taburno, which makes this place an important station for food and wine tourism.
In the last decades the production of other typical vines such as Falanghina, Coda di Volpe and Greco has been increased, all included in the Taburno D.O.C.. I will take you to the best of the wineyards in Torrecuso, the great Cantina La Fortezza and invite you to taste its excellent wines, but allow me to start witha little history of this magical land…
Torrecuso is located close to Benevento, a town mythically traced to the arrival of a Greek hero back from the disastrous Trojan war. In this case it would have been Diomedes to found it and on the Beneventan soil the Greek prince would have met and almost met with death with Enea, a Trojan hero.
Historically, the first settlement dates back to the Osci, and then passed under the control of the Samnites. The first ‘bad’ name was Maleventum that means a ‘huge disaster’, then luckily changed to the positive name of Beneventum when the city became a Roman colony, in 268 BC.
Throughout the Roman period the city became one of the most prosperous since it represented a very important junction for the main commercial routes and roads. Although tortured by violent earthquakes and barbarians invasions, Benevento gained the reputation of a city difficult to conquer: even the Franks and Charlemagne himself had to stop at its borders. In 1077 Henry III ceded the city and the entire area to the Church, which held power until the unification of Italy.
For a few years, in 1798, it was occupied by Napoleon’s troops,then in the hands of the Bourbons, then again of the Church.Here come the witches!
Benevento has always been in the popular belief the capital of witches, in that peasant and genuine territory where legends and traditions have a weight, the nightly Janare were the most ferocious species of those witches. These were women who possessed the knowledge of the occult and magical rites, such as invoices and the evil eye, capable of ruining life. According to tradition, in fact, it was necessary to place an upside-down millet broom or a bag with grains of salt in front of the door, counting which the witch would have lingered until dawn, when the light, her bitter enemy, would have forced her to flee away, leaving the inhabitants of that house or that room in particular in peace.
There was a widespread belief that these witches gathered under a walnut tree on the banks of the Sabato river to worship the devil. Aggressive and acid, they use to go around naked and celebrate the Sabbath, or demonic rites: banquets, dances and orgies.
take me to the Benevento nut
above the water and above the wind
and above Benevento ».There are still janaras around today?
I asked several Benevento citizens, but apparently the malifigcent witches aren t no more. Perhaps some older women are preparing healing natural ointments or infusions, as regular herbalists. But hey, I’ ve been told that you can recognize them, because they are the last ones to leave the church after the mass…
Strange…Are the witch going to church? The only surviving witch is the Strega Liqueur, a traditional drink obtained by the distillation of about 70 herbs and spices from all over the world. You can drink it neat, icy or mixed in long drinks or cocktails.Let’s move from the legends to a truly magic reality…
I am taking you to La Fortezza Vineyards, located in Torrecuso, where their headquarters extend on the east slope of the Regional Park of the Taburno-Camposauro: the slopes are a succession of vineyards, woods and small clearings, which only in the last hours of the day the Monte Taburno profile subtracts light and heat.In the middle of the vineyards stands the beating heart of our business: the cellar.
Entirely coated in stone and well integrated into the surrounding landscape is made up of two bodies. In the upper part a Villa and wide open spaces primarily intended for lawn: a charming place by sweeping views looking towards the Apennines that separates the Campania from Apulia. The underlying body, which opens more than two gates in medieval style strictly processed hardwood, home to the productive activity itself: a perfect blend of tradition and modern technology.The barrel vaults, that dominate the area destined to accommodate the aging of wine, entirely coated in terracotta bricks and partially dug into the tuff, bring us closer to an idea of the cellar to those who were the old “cellai” of rural farms, that is, those places that were intended to keep as much wine as food.
The local processing, where there are machines for wine making, bottling and labeling room, steel tanks and warehouses for goods destined to commercialization complement the wine cellar, with a production potential of about two million bottles.Here La Fortezza’s grape varieties:
Let’s start with the Aglianico del Taburno, a generous quantity that allows an accurate selection in the vineyard for the various sales lines and to guarantee the production of wines of the highest quality such as the Riserva, whose grapes come from a vineyard of about seventy years of age. Falanghina del Taburno, whose exposure of the vineyards gives us the best results in terms of sugar content, perfumes and acidity of the wine without having to resort to cuts in working phase. By the time we select in outside the vineyards of Greek and Fiano to be allocated to our products by imposing a strict and meticulous discipline of crop for producers: once the land and its vineyards identified, these are followed in all the basic steps until the collection that takes place under our supervision.
Want to go bubbles?
I like to point the Sparkling Falanghina, the Aglianico Frizzante and the precious “Maleventum” a brut obtained with the charmat method.
Last but not the least I like to mention the delicate rosèe Aglianico dl Taburno, perfectly pairing fish and the fragrant Olio La Fortezza, both excellent choice if you are having a local great dish with baccalà (salted codfish) a remarkable specialty of this territory, which I had the pleasure to taste at a typical restaurant Trattoria Nunzia, in Benevento.
Sweet finale? Do you love chocolate?
Well, while you are there, take a trip to to San Marco dei Cavoti to visit the Antonio Autore Artisanal Factory that produces the one and only handmade ‘croccantino’.a delicious traditional recipe of a bar of sugar, almonds and hazelnuts. It will be a pleasure for your eyes and for your mouth!
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