Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Naples, large south Italian port and capital of the campania region. The area around Naples had once produced all the greatest wines of Ancient rome, not only falernian, but also caecuban, massic, and surrentine, but in viticultural terms it was never to be that famous again. With the fall of the Roman empire and the economic decline of Italy, the market for fine wines collapsed.

Its oriental trade, which dates from Naples’s medieval period under Byzantine rule, included the strong sweet malmsey of Crete, but puglia produced similar wines itself, mostly for consumption in southern Italy. Naples also traded in the vernaccia of Liguria, which it sold to Sicily, Majorca, and paris. These wines were known collectively as vini grechi, because like the wines imported from the Aegean they were high-quality sweet wines, capable of surviving a long sea voyage. The wines of Campania, which were not in the Greek style but dry, were called vini latini. They were considered inferior and were not long lived enough to be sent overseas to northern Europe. The highest regarded of the vini latini were those of Mount Vesuvius, which were sold to other parts of Italy by the merchants of Naples and Salerno. In addition, Naples sold calabrian wines to Aragón and the Balearic islands.