It is a very special feeling to be mesmerised and enchanted by the small things in life- something we experience as children and regretfully seem to forget as we grow older.
Le Vigne di Raito is a small winery producing organic wines in the very small town of Raito along the Amalfi Coast. The town itself, nestled in the coves of the mountain top above Vietri, has a population of about 996 people living in stone houses along a steep, winding road. The vineyards and winery occupy just about 2 hectares of land to the right of the town, carved into the ridges of the mountain side and surrounded by plush, mediterranean greeny. This special gem may be small in size but it is larger than in life in character. Not only is Raito a UNESCO World Heritage site, as is all of the Amalfi Coast, its location above the coastal town of Vietri offers absolutely spectacular views of the Gulf of Salerno.
Upon arriving in Raito, as soon as we stepped out of the car, we were struck by this amazing panoramic view of the sea with the town of Vietri and Salerno below. Rather than rushing off to the winery, I believe our tour experience started here- leaning against the wall, breathing in the fresh sea air, feeling the warm sun on our skin and taking it all in.
We were greeted at the gates of the winery by the owner’s daughter and given a tour of the grounds. Rather than being herded around like a flock of photo-hungry tourists, it felt more like we were being welcomed into their home. (In fact, I think they live in the house above the vineyards where they keep two sweet, disheveled, elderly dogs.)
The grounds include lemon trees, an olive grove, the vineyards, a cantina where the wine is made and stored, and a small wood just around the back. It is all absolutely charming, but what I found most remarkable was the plethora of vegetation in and amongst the vines, which speaks to the love and care the owners have for the land. Between the rows of vines there are literally thousands upon thousands of tiny, little flowers sprinkled throughout the green turf like a Klimt painting. All of the plants are typical of the area and given their proper room to grow around the vineyard. It’s like experiencing the mediterranean in bite-size pieces: lavender here, rosemary and laurel there, a mediterranean pine over there.
“Flower Garden” 1907, “Fruit Garden with Roses” 1912 and “Field of Poppies” 1907 by Gustav Klimt.
After strolling through this enchanted, colourful landscape we arrived at the terraced garden over looking the sea for the wine tasting: their rosato and two years of their red wine accompanied by locally produced cheeses, salami and crackers.
A real highlight was the goat’s cheese paired with home-made lemon marmalade from the lemons grown on the property. It was divine when paired with the rosato! We were left alone on the terrace to muse over the wine and enjoy the view as the bright light of the day waned its way into the soft pinks and oranges of sunset. This was followed by some friendly conversation about the wine, organic farming and experiences of sailing around the mediterranean sea from Sicily to Sardegna. We left feeling relaxed and revived, and pleasantly surprised by being gifted the bottles opened in the tasting in addition to the ones we purchased.
It was one of my most memorable wine tastings, above all for the experience of being immersed in nature. The colours, the smells, the sounds, the shapes reminded me not only of where the wine comes from but also how magical the small little details in our lives can be.
“Meeting Raito was love at first sight, the one that turns your life upside down and inevitably changes you. That is how I found myself in 2001 cultivating a semi-abandoned terrain of over 2 hectares, rolling up my sleeves and getting straight to work to bring new life to the land in full respect of the environment and the landscape.”
-Patrizia Malanga, owner of Le Vigne di Raito
About the wine:
Le Vigne di Raito produces two organic certified wines from Aglianico and Piedirosso grapes: Vitamenia Rosato and Ragis Rosso, both DOC Amalfi Coast. The Aglianico grapes are cultivated using the Guyot method on a series of terraces carved into the mountain side located 150-200 meters above sea level. The Piedirosso grapes instead are cultivated on a traditional pergola. Both methods are typical of wines from the Amalfi Coast. The soil is mostly sandy on a bed of dolomitic limestone. Due to the roughness and difficulty of access of the terrain, the grapes are hand-picked and processed.
Vitamenia Rosato DOC Amalfi Coast 2016
60% Aglianico, 40% Piedirosso.
The grapes are destemmed and soft pressed before the must is separated from the skins. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks with the addition of selected yeasts. During the fermentation the must is transferred to 500 litre french oak barrels where it undergoes a spontaneous malo-lattic fermentation. The wine is aged in the barrels for 6 months, filtered and refined in the bottle for two months.
The wine has a rich salmon colour with copper tones, luminous and compact. On the nose it is characterized by floral and citrus fruit aromas including wild flowers, lemon, orange, pomegranate and strawberry. On the palate it is intense and structured with fresh acidity and minerality, finishing with returning strawberry notes and a crisp finish.
Ragis Rosso Doc Amalfi Coast 2015
80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso
The grapes are destemmed and soft pressed, then transferred to steel tanks where the must undergoes spontaneous fermentation without the addition of selected yeasts and a maceration period of about 12-15 days before the skins are separated. After that, the must undergoes a spontaneous malo-lattic fermentation before being transferred into 500 litre french oak barrels where the wine is aged for 12 months, 25% in new barrels and 75% in barrels of second or third passage. The wine is then transferred into steel tanks where it is naturally decanted. It is then refined in the bottle for at least 12 more months.
The wine is deep, dark ruby in colour. It has intense aromas of forest fruits such as blueberry, blackberry and sour cherry followed by toasted notes of ceder, chocolate and licorice. Bold yet smooth on the palate with bright acidity and well integrated tannins. It is well-balanced with lingering persistence of berries and spices and a juicy finish.
For more information about the winery visit their website: https://www.levignediraito.com/