2022 Casa Setaro, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio "Munazei"
2022 Casa Setaro, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio "Munazei"

2022 Casa Setaro, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio "Munazei"

Campania, Italy 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$33.00

2022 Casa Setaro, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio "Munazei"

For Italian wine lovers of a certain age, buying a wine called Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio—there are both red and white versions—is a nostalgia play. “Lacryma Christi” means “Christ’s Tears,” and refers to wines grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius—in soils which, according to legend, were fertilized by Jesus’ tears as he wept over the fall of Lucifer from heaven. Up until recently, many dismissed these fancifully named classics as novelties—historically significant, sure, but otherwise not especially interesting. But Massimo Setaro is among the new generation of producers on Campania’s Mount Vesuvius who know that they’re in a world-class terroir capable of producing world-class wines. This ’21 is a great catch-up on the state of affairs in an increasingly dynamic wine region: it’s pure, it’s evocative, it’s delicious, it’s organic…it’s got everything going for it.

Most of Mount Vesuvius is a national park, and 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 (the only active volcano in continental Europe) is not producing wine on an “industrial” scale. Casa Setaro’s vineyards are centered around the village of Trecase, on Vesuvio’s southern slopes. Proprietor Massimo Setaro comes from a family famous for pasta production, but his wine estate, officially founded in 2004, is based around vineyard holdings that had been in his family for generations. Massimo has since added newer parcels to grow the estate’s holdings to around 12 hectares total, all of them planted to indigenous varieties: Aglianico and Piedirosso for reds and Fiano, Greco, and Caprettone for whites.

Here's perhaps the most interesting feature of his “Munazei” bottling: While most Lacryma Christi reds are Aglianico-Piedirosso blends, this bottling shines the light on the latter—an ancient variety thought to have been named by Roman agricultural writer Pliny the Elder (who died in the eruption that buried Pompeii). Sourced from vineyards planted at 250-300 meters of elevation, “Munazei” undergoes a three-day pre-fermentation maceration and is then aged entirely in stainless steel for about six months before bottling.

The name Piedirosso (“red feet”) came from the aforementioned Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, referring to the red stalks of the variety’s grape bunches. Although there’s no known genetic connection, Piedirosso often feels like a less-intense version of Aglianico: there’s dark berry fruit, spice, tannin, and a hint of smoke. As expressed in this ’22, it makes for a medium-weight red that packs an unexpected punch—not of tannin, or alcohol, but of deep, complex, earthy flavor. In the glass, it’s a vibrant ruby red with hints of purple and pink, with lively aromas of black currant, black raspberry, pomegranate, violets, black pepper, and a hint of black ash. For those unfamiliar with this grape/place, think of more structured examples of Cru Beaujolais or maybe a classically styled Dolcetto from Italy’s Piedmont. Serve it on the cooler side, say 55-60 degrees, to soften its acidity and accentuate the dark fruit. Serve it with burgers, short ribs, or baked ziti, and contemplate the depth of history swirling in your glass. Salute!
2022 Casa Setaro, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio "Munazei"

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