Crisp Catalanesca - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Crisp Catalanesca

Catalanesca grapes at a 1978 harvest festival in Ciro Giordano’s hometown of Sant’Anastasia. (Photo courtesy of the winery)

As a child, Ciro Giordano played among the vineyards in his home village of Sant’Anastasia and recalls his father telling him to take care because “these vines are our heritage.” The grapes were Catalanesca, a white variety of Spanish origin that had been growing on the northern slope of Mount Vesuvius for some 500 years. Large-berried and thick-skinned, Catalanesca was considered nothing more than a table grape by the Italian government, but the locals valued it for the fragrant homemade wines it produced and proudly celebrated it in annual harvest festivals.

In the early 1990s, Giordano began to restore an old Catalanesca vineyard with the help of winemaker Andrea Cozzolino. They founded Cantine Olivella in 2004 and produced the first Catalanesca wine in the 2006 vintage, the same year the Italian government added the variety to the national registry of wine grapes. Katà, a local name for the grape, comes from vines up to 30 years old grown in Vesuvius’s sandy volcanic soils at elevations of 900 to 1,800 feet. It’s vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks to emphasize its fresh floral scents and complex fruit flavors, from heirloom apple to green melon and kiwi. Katà’s salty finish makes it a natural match for shellfish.


Cantine Olivella 2021 Campania Katà Catalanesca

Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.

is the Italian wine editor at Wine & Spirits magazine.

This is a W&S web exclusive. Get access to all of our feature stories by signing up today.