Cantine Olivella, Catalanesca del Monte Somma “Katà”
Cantine Olivella, Catalanesca del Monte Somma “Katà”

Cantine Olivella, Catalanesca del Monte Somma “Katà”

Campania, Italy 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$29.00

Cantine Olivella, Catalanesca del Monte Somma “Katà”

The greatest thing about Italian wine is that once you think you’ve seen it all, someone like Andrea Cozzolino comes along and shows you something new—well, new to you, anyway, not to the world. In Cozzolino’s case, it’s an obscure white grape variety called Catalanesca, which has been grown on the sandy, mineral-rich slopes of Mount Vesuvius since at least the 15th century, when it was thought to have arrived in the area from Spain. The electrifying, mineral-drenched wines Cozzolino crafts at his Cantine Olivella are relatively “new” expressions of a historic terroir, and what’s most important to note here is that they are very good, very clean, very substantial wines that are priced fairly—the curiosity factor is hardly the only reason to buy them. Yes, this is a must-have for any Italian wine aficionado, but really anyone who’s serious about white wine in general should be clamoring for a taste.

The simplest way to introduce Cantine Olivella’s Catalanesca—“Katà” for short—is to say it’s the latest volcanic white wine to capture our imagination—immediately joining our must-have list alongside Etna Bianco, Santorini Assyrtiko, and Canary Island whites. As we’ve noted before, most of Mount Vesuvius, in Italy’s Campania region, is a national park; only a handful of entities have significant vineyard holdings there, so while wines such as Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio rank among Italy’s most iconic, this still-active volcano has never produced wine at scale. 

Cozzolino tapped into historic family vineyard holdings to launch Cantine Olivella in 2004, but only recently were the wines made available stateside. The 2021 vintage of “Katà” marked the first time any of us had tasted a wine crafted from Catalanesca, so we were thrilled when the new-release ’22 showed up and did the ’21 one better. The variety is thought to have been brought to the Naples area in the 15th century by Spanish royals, and Cozzolino is one of the lucky few to still cultivate this heirloom vine. He organically farms about 30 acres of vineyards across three different subzones of Vesuvius, most of them surrounded by scrub and forest land within the Vesuvio National Park.

“Katà” is one of the few examples in existence of a “varietal” Catalanesca, and for those with some Italian wine experience, you may detect some similarities to another Campanian native, Greco di Tufo. The minerality is pronounced, which isn’t surprising given its volcanic origins, as is the acidity. Cozzolino’s hand-harvested grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermented on ambient yeasts in stainless steel, after which the wine aged in tank and bottle for a year. Red apple and pear notes mingle with a nice smoldering smokiness and lots of wet-stone minerality, with the ever-so-slight touch of oxidation often found in Greco di Tufo wines. It’s a no-brainer for fritto misto and seafood in the Neapolitan style, which often means spicy and stew-y. Enjoy!

Cantine Olivella, Catalanesca del Monte Somma “Katà”

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