Antonio Mastroberardino, father of Campania fine wine movement, has died at age 86

1968 Mastroberardino Taurasi

Above: a bottle of Mastroberardino 1968 Taurasi, considered by many one of the appellation’s greatest vintages, tasted in May 2013.

Today, the world of wine mourns the loss of Antonio Mastroberardino, who died yesterday in Campania at age 86.

He was widely considered the father of fine winemaking in Campania and his decision to replant indigenous grapes after the second world war redefined the fine wine movement in his own region and beyond.

“In 1945,” wrote Neapolitan journalist and wine writer Luciano Pignataro on his blog today, “Irpinia’s great viticultural district, which quenched Italy’s thirst in the 1920s, was practically non-existent [destroyed by the arrival of phylloxera in the 1930s]. Together with his brothers Angelo and Walter, he began again to make wine. But it was he who decided the contents: Fiano, Greco, and Aglianico.

“His decision to remain faithful to the grapes of his forbearers was a stubborn one, rooted in his Irpinian mountain origins. It seemed out of fashion in the 1960s, when agricultural inspectors were pushing growers to plant more prolific Italian grapes: Trebbiano, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and even Barbera.”

In the 1990s, Mastroberardino launched the Villa dei Misteri project, a viticultural and archeological quest to grow grapes in Pompeii using DNA culled from ancient artifacts and techniques described by the ancient agronomist Columella.

It was just one of the many initiatives that helped to reshape and revitalize Campania winemaking as we know it today.

The many fine wines now produced there — and in particular, the myriad expressions of Aglianico — are inexorably linked to his legacy and passion as a grape grower and winemaker.

Antoni sit tibi terra levis.

6 thoughts on “Antonio Mastroberardino, father of Campania fine wine movement, has died at age 86

  1. Wayward wine recommended this wine in my post just yesterday. Even more motivation to find it now. Thank you for this tribute and what an important legacy.
    Do you know where they might have it here in Austin?

  2. Very sorry for his passing. We did a dinner last night with Dario Pennino from Mastroberardino. Poured the Radici and Radici reserva. He may have passed but his name and wines live on.

  3. He was a legacy. I am his daughter in law. I knew the man personally for the last 23 years. He was a genius, a person who saw the future and against many odds ran with it and that is one reason these wines are as important in the history of wine as they are. He will be missed.

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