Cantine di Marzo is the birthplace of the iconic white wine ‘Greco di Tufo’. A story that began in 1647 when Ferrante’s ancestor, Scipione di Marzo, moved from Nola to Tufo to escape a virulent plague. Amongst his belongings were Greco del Vesuvio vines which have performed so well around Tufo that they have all but taken over.
The village of Tufo is built on volcanic rock which is naturally rich in sulphur. This unusual terroir was mined by the di Marzo family, a golden era that spanned from the 20’s ending in the 50’s with the arrival of cheap, industrial sulphur. It was not just the di Marzo family who entered a period of hiatus, the income of the whole area just stopped. Winemaking continued with little input or interest from the family, the palazzo fell destitute after earthquake damage and remains so today. Fortunately, the estate has always propagated vines in its own nursery using original genetic stock. The value of this is incalculable.
The di Marzo’s vineyards are planted with Greco, Fiano and Aglianico, no land is wasted on Cabernet or the like, for such a cosmopolitan family they always had a wonderfully focused approach. The cellar is made up of manmade caves, dug into the hill, the temperature is constant and perfect. Annoyingly every piece of equipment had to be tailor-made to fit, a modernisation overseen by Ferrante di Somma, who is now in total control of the estate after acquiring enough shares to wrench control from the various factions of the family.
Throughout all of this, the people working within the estate remained unchanged, led by Giuseppe Lennaco who has spent his working life looking after the vineyards. The one recent change: a new oenologist, Vincenzo Mercurio who has sprinkled fairy dust and delivered Ferrante’s first ‘Tre Bicchieri’ from the Gambero Rosso.
We found Cantine di Marzo in our search for Aglianico, the fabled ‘Nebbiolo of the south’, that had become an obsession for us. It is a vine that can sometimes resemble Barolo, occasionally a Pinot Noir, it is genuinely world class. Ferrante, has lived and studied in France, loves and understands Burgundy which may go some way to explain why his wines demonstrate an unusual elegance. The fact that we stumbled over a piece of living history was a bonus.