by Chris Ryerson

Our dinner with Bruno de Conciliis Monday night was a great success! It was a pleasure to have such a charming and thoughtful winemaker here to discuss his unique part of Campania and his philosophy of winemaking. Bruno is very committed to showing true vintage expression and true terroir in his wines and explains that although “wine is not just a beverage and must be an expression of the land, the vines, and the culture,” he doesn’t want to make esoteric wines for only a few people. From the beginning he has refused to employ a consulting enologist and prefers to make the wines himself. He describes the De Conciliis winery as “chaos” and tries to approach each new vintage without pre-conceived ideas and standardized formulas for making the wines. A former art student, Bruno feels that “specialization is the enemy of knowledge” and maintains that farming and making wine require a deeper knowledge than just the scientific; being faithful to genuine vintage and vineyard expression is much more difficult than just applying the same formulaic approach year after year. He views wine making as a long-term project and claims that it takes years (probably three generations) to understand the land and the vines and to make truly great wine.

A few tasting notes from the wines we enjoyed during the dinner:

Fiano, “Donnaluna” 2008 – White peach, canteloupe, and a hint of tropical fruit are held in check by zesty acidity, and hints of sea salt and nearby lemon groves.

Fiano, “Antece” 2004 – A wonderful, complex wine with notes of baked apples, creamy citrus, herbs, dried flowers, hazelnut, and warm spices.

Aglianico, “Donnaluna” 2008 – Black and Bing cherries and red currant fruit mingle with smoky, earthy, tobacco notes. The firm tannins and acidity give the wine ample structure but leave it relatively accessible even at this young age.

Aglianico, “Naima” 2005 – Still a monster, but showed brilliantly after three hours of decanting: dark plum, blackberry, and cassis are complimented by notes of baking chocolate, leather, and espresso.