Cantine di Marzo


Ferrante and his much-missed late father, Filippo

Tufo, Campania

Cantine di Marzo is the birthplace of the iconic white ‘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 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 and only ended 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 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 continued to propagate vines in its own nursery using original genetic stock; the value of this is incalculable.
Cantine 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 have 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 has had to be tailor-made to fit. The modernisation of this cellar has been overseen by Ferrante di Somma, who with his father has worked tirelessly to regain overall control of the estate by acquiring enough shares to wrench control from the various factions of the family. Throughout all of this, the people working within the estate have remained unchanged, led by Giuseppe Lennaco who has spent his working life looking after the vineyards. There is one recent change, a new oenologist, Vincenzo Mercurio who has sprinkled fairy dust and delivered Ferrante’s first ‘Tre Bicchieri’ from the Gambero Rosso.
It was thanks to Andrea Faccio that we found Cantine di Marzo, I was looking for Aglianico, the fabled ‘Nebbiolo of the south’, a search that had become an obsession. 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 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.