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Fascinating Italian Wines: Greco di Tufo

Campania, Italy is famous for many things – the Amalfi Coast, the pizza Margherita, and wine. This region has so much great wine that the ancient Romans used to rave about it a lot. And, one of those wines was Greco di Tufo.

This dazzling wine is unique. It’s a gem of Campania, bringing a personality you may never have encountered before. There’s plenty to learn about Greco di Tufo, from its home to its history to its character. Let’s dive into it all!

Greco di Tufo is a specific wine, not a grape type

Italy has a lot of wine grapes. Sometimes, the grapes are also the names of the wines or at least a part. That is the case with Greco di Tufo.

Greco is a grape that grows mainly in Campania along with the regions of Lazio and Puglia. Its character varies on where it grows. Now, Greco di Tufo is a particular name for a wine. This name isn’t just local – it’s also official. Greco di Tufo is a DOCG (Denomination of Protected Origin,) meaning the wine must follow strict legal guidelines accordingly to Italian/E.U. law to be called Greco di Tufo.

We must note that in this post, we will reference Greco di Tufo as Greco, just for brevity’s sake…

A small hillside town in Campania, Italy

Tufo is the name of a town in Campania

Now that you know that Greco di Tufo is a specific type of wine, it’s time to break down why. In Campania, the names of wines made with the Greco grape were usually assigned by location. So, Greco di Tufo means ‘Greco from Tufo.’ You must be wondering – where is Tufo? It’s nestled in the province of Avellino, in the region of Campania. This province is known for its exceptional altitudes and incredibly rich soils.

This wine-growing area is famous for its tuff, a type of volcanic soil that results from a volcanic explosion. The particles eject and spread through the soil, creating a minerally rich composition. It’s no surprise that tuff in Italian is tufo, the same name as the town.

Greco di Tufo dates back to Grecian times

You probably got the hint that with a name like Greco, the grape must have something to do with Greece. And, indeed it does.

Like multiple Southern Italian grape varietals, their histories lay in the hands of the ancient Greeks. Way back when – we’re talking before the Roman Empire was thought – the Greeks occupied a chunk of Southern Italy. With them, they brought grape vines and winemaking practices. One grape that came with them was Greco, most likely around 600 B.C.E.

Greco and Greco Bianco are two different grape varieties

There is often a big confusion around Greco and Greco Bianco. Many folks, both consumers and wine professionals use the names interchangeably. But, that’s a big error.

Genetically speaking, Greco and Greco Bianco are two genetically diverse grapes. The grape in Greco di Tufo is Greco, a unique white grape variety indigenous to a specific part of Campania. Greco Bianco is a grape uniquely from the region of Lazio.

Greco di Tufo is a big flavorful white wine

What makes Greco stand out is its body. This wine isn’t a mild, easy-going beach wine like its neighbor Irpinia Falanghina. Greco di Tufo is a full-bodied, high-alcohol white wine. Its flavors range from juicy orchard fruit to tropical fruit notes, finishing with a distinct almond-like nuttiness. While Greco can be a weighty wine, its refreshing minerality balances it all out. Many say this mineral character comes from the volcanic tuff and clay soils where this wine grows.

Again, it’s important to note that Greco di Tufo’s character does vary by producer and how they choose to make their wines.

It’s an exceptionally ageable wine

Greco di Tufo’s excellent structure often makes it a white wine worth aging. Greco has the acidity, body, and persistence to evolve in the bottle over a few years. The ability for this wine to age relies heavily on the specific wine itself. Some winemakers produce Greco di Tufo made to be enjoyed as soon as possible, or within 3 years. Others can persist even up to 10 years.

Historia Antiqua 2018 Greco di TufoHistoria Antiqua's Greco di Tufo Bottle Shot

In the heart of the Avellino province lies Historia Antiqua, a family-run winery making the signature wines of the area. Their 2017 Greco di Tufo tastes marvelous, showing off just how Greco ages beautifully. This wine is fortunately available in the United States, thanks to a fond family connection. Historia Antiqua’s owners are the cousins of Dominick at Domenico Winery. The Domenico family imports Historia Antiqua’s wines so that we can enjoy them.

Curious to try Greco di Tufo? We sure hope so. It’s a fascinating grape with history and character to savor. We encourage you to explore all of Historia Antiqua’s unique Campanian wines, available in Domenico Winery’s shop!