Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso Iovine
Grapes: Piedirosso, Aglianico
Vesuvio’s vineyards are found on the slopes of the still-active volcano Mount Vesuvius, east of Naples. For years the area was regarded as incapable of producing any quality wines, but thanks to the influence of the highly regarded winemaker Antonio Mastroberardino, quality is on the up and the wines have taken off in popularity. This was recognized when Vesuvio was awarded its DOC status in 1983.
This DOC also carries the name Lacryma Christi (del Vesuvio), meaning ‘the tears of Christ on Vesuvius’. There are many myths surrounding this wine. One such legend relates the simple story of when Jesus ascended into heaven, and on casting his eyes over the beautiful Bay of Naples he wept tears of joy, which fell upon Mount Vesuvius. Another tells of the casting out of Lucifer and the fallen angels. Angry that they were forced to leave, they took a piece of heaven with them and when Lucifer fell, this bit of ‘paradise’ landed on Mount Vesuvius, leading to tears of sadness from Jesus. Another tale is that the tears of joy came from the Roman god of wine, Bacchus. All three stories share the idea that tears landing on the slopes of Vesuvius resulted in vines emerging, from which Lacryma Christi is made. Whatever the story may be, this area produces some excellent and unique wines from interesting native varieties.
To be labelled Lacryma Christi, alcohol levels must be 1 or 1.5% higher than the basic Vesuvio designation. These Lacryma wines can be produced in several styles: red, white, rose, sparkling and liquoroso (the latter can be either dry or sweet). Whites must be made from a minimum of 35–80% Coda di Volpe (a variety derived from the ancient Roman vines of Campania Felix and reminiscent of a fox’s tail, due to the way the grapes grow in a long bunch) and/or Verdecca grapes. The remaining 20% includes Falanghina or Greco di Tufo grapes. The liquoroso is made from the same blend.
Roses and reds are a minimum of 80% Piedirosso (locally known as Per’e Palummo, or Palombina), a variety named for the gnarled red bases of the vines and its similarity to the red feet of a native dove, and/or Sciascinoso (locally known as Olivella). There must be no less than 50% Piedirosso, and the remaining 20% Aglianico. Whites and roses are usually produced for immediate consumption, unlike the reds which require a little age. The reds display a quintessential character of smoky, mineral flavours, derived from the volcanic soil on which the grapes are cultivated. They also take on notes of plums, raspberries and cherries, enveloped in spices such as cinnamon and white pepper.
The family Iovine is the oldest producer of wines in the Sorrento Peninsula. The grandfather Aniello began with the production of chestnut barrels used for the transportation and sale of wine.
Four successive generations of the family have allowed a selection of wines to represent, with the farms of Vesuvius Sannio and Irpinia, the essence of the wines of Campania. The initial 20,000 bottles produced have grown from year to year, with enthusiastic feedback. The attentive wine market places Iovine as the apex producers of Campania. A careful perspective, passion and experience of the market, combined with an atmosphere of sincere spontaneity characterize the wine production of the Iovine family business.
In the vast selection of fine wine, the company chooses to highlight the Sorrento Peninsula wine, and also a sparkling red called Gragnano.
In 2007, Iovine received recognition with their inclusion in the list “GOLOSARIA TOP HUNDRED OF BEST ITALIAN WINES” for the Sorrento Peninsula 2006.