Azienda Agricola Mustilli
Summary: Cantina di Mustilli is an important winery to visit because of its legacy. Caves carved out of volcanic rock during the Middle Ages are still used today to age wines. A new winery has been built outside of the town of Sant’ Agata dei Goti.
A visit to Mustilli winery in Campania, Italy is a must if you enjoy the history of winemaking and travel. Mustilli has old wine cellars below Sant’ Agata dei Goti. This fortified town was besieged during the middle ages. The Mustilli family came to the area in the 14th century. Records indicate that the caves built in the Middle Ages were used for winemaking and cellaring wines beginning in the 1800’s. It was in the late 1800’s that Cesare Mustilli began using gravity to help with the hard work of making wine. One wonders if this was one of the first steps to today’s modern gravity flow systems in many wineries. It was not until the 1960’s that electricity was brought into the winery. In 2002 a new winery was built outside of town while the original wine cellars continue to be used for aging wines.
During the 14th century, the cellar was carved out of volcanic rock and used for food storage during the many sieges. Above ground the area had been a church. The caves have been used as a wine cellar since the Mastillis purchased it in the 17th century.
The ancient cellars hold a mystique for the wine enthusiast. Visitors will see a contradiction of old aging barrels, wine bottles resting and gathering dust and nearby modern stainless steel tanks. Walking down aged stone steps adds a sense of history. Then the ultimate view of old dark barrels and a cement tank aid one’s understanding of wine as continually evolving through history and winemaking.
The tasting room has several tables of various sizes. The room has been defined with arches, baskets, wall sculptures and pictures. The ceiling has been covered with fabric. Quilted stars and a moon on the ceiling attempt to give the impression of the sky.
Several apples were on a counter and we quickly learned about the uniqueness of this variety. The Annurca, one of the oldest apple varieties known, is usually found in Campania. The apples are harvested from the trees while they are green. This variety of apple will not ripen if left on the tree. They must be placed on the ground for days before they turn the accustomed red color of most apples.
The Mustilli family has discovered several grape varieties that had virtually disappeared since ancient times. Leonardo Marili’ Mustilli found and planted varieties that had been abandoned in favor of international varieties. Among these ancient grape varieties were Aglianico, Piedirosso, Falanghina and Greco. Today it is believed that Leonardo was the first to bottle 100 percent Falanghina back in the 1970’s.
La Falanghina Spumante Brut was a refreshing late afternoon sparkling wine. With a light straw color and many tiny bubbles this clean crisp wine reawakens the palate. Falanghina 2010 was a blend of Beneventana and Flegrea. The result was a straw color wine with an aroma of floral and mineral notes. The taste added hints of yellow stone fruit. The crisp finish had a lingering stone fruit and mineral finish. Cesco Di Nece Aglianico Sant'Agata di Goti DOC was a dark ruby to purple color. There were nuances of plum and licorice. The finish was crisp with fruity notes and tannins.
When visiting Mustilli winery, be sure to ask about the aging caves carved in the volcanic rock during the Middle Ages.
Piazza Trento, 4
82019 Sant'Agata de' Goti Benevento, Italy
February 16, 2012
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