Large cooperatives are often the subject of a certain suspicion or, even worse, the conviction that their size, and nature as a cooperative, indicates, or even assures, that their sole purpose is that of producing large volumes of wine and that quality is not to be looked for in their work.
This sort of prejudice is particularly strong in the case of southern Italy, and the La Guardiense cooperative in the township of Guardia Sanframondi of Campania’s province of Benevento has, over the years, suffered the consequences. The province had come to be known in the post-war period for its very substantial production, often exported to the north in tanker trucks, and in discussions of the wines of Campania the common wisdom was that, for quality, the wines to search for were in the province of Avellino, while those looking for volume wines would find them from the producers of Benevento.
But what may have been true once upon a time is not true any longer, and the past decade has seen the emergence of a significant number of high quality producers in this part of Campania who have profited from both the excellent local climate and the fine local soils. And from the high level and interesting grapes which grow in these soils, Aglianico and Piedirosso for the red wines, Falanghina (here unsurpassed as a source), Greco, and Coda di Volpe for the whites.
Among the foremost producers of these wines is unquestionably the large (over 1000 members with 4950 acres of vineyards) cooperative winery of Guardia Sanframondi. An operation of this obviously produces a number of different lines of varying quality levels. But the selections compete very well with, and at times even surpass, the best of the entire region. As is the case of the splendid Piedirosso Janare, the excellent Falanghina Senete, the Greco Janere, and the Aglianico Riserva Cantari. And, best of all, the Aglianico I Mille per L’Aglianico, very simply a great wine. A tribute to the passion of the growers, the competence of the technical staff and of consultant Riccardo Cotarella, and of the ambition and commitment of the directors. All for one and one for all.