Joaquin Fiano di Avellino "Vino della Stella" 2018
Raffaele Pagano’s family thinks he’s crazy. This fourth-generation heir apparent to his Salerno-based clan’s income stream—two million bottles per year spread among three wineries—chose a wildly different path, and today Raffaele produces a mere 18,000 bottles annually, from three and a half hectares in Irpinia and Capri. But they’re his wines, made according to his vision, and this Campanian maverick wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pagano began his passion project in the early 2000s, acquiring several parcels of extremely old Fiano and Aglianico in the towns of Lapio and Paternopoli, respectively, and bottling his first vintage in 2006. He christened his winery Joaquin, after the French-Spanish Bourbon dynastic family who planted vines throughout the area and contributed hugely to Campania’s gastronomic and viticultural life in the pre-unification era. A few years later, Raffaele was, amazingly, able to purchase a 0.8-hectare parcel of co-planted Greco, Falanghina, and Biancolella on Capri off the Amalfi Coast, a splendorous and heavily touristed little island where only 20 hectares of vines exist in total.
Raffaele’s largest-production wine at around 6,000 bottles per year, “Vino della Stella” comes from a 0.9-hectare parcel of Fiano between 20 and 30 years of age planted in the commune of Lapio’s volcanic clay-limestone soils. Situated in the far eastern reaches of the Fiano di Avellino appellation, Lapio is where Fiano originated, and it is considered not only the variety’s spiritual home but its greatest terroir. Lapio’s cool microclimate, high altitude, and huge diurnal temperature shifts allow for Fiano of exceptional precision and complexity, and Joaquin’s combines those traits with a magnificently concentrated palate which swells dramatically on the finish. “Vino della Stella” spends eight months on its fine lees in steel and fiberglass without temperature control, and it undergoes an additional stint in bottle before release—a purposeful delay which allows the variety’s youthful floral aromatics to subside a bit while its signature note of toast begins to emerge.