Kapemort by Donnachiara: The Mythical History of Naples in a Bottle

Donnachiara has been making world class wines for decades. Founded in the Irpinian hills outside of Naples, this woman-owned company specializes in grapes native to the region: Fiano and Greco for white wines with a mineral profile; Aglianico for full-bodied reds with structure and depth.

I’ve had the opportunity to taste these wines on multiple occasions and have bought them myself. They’re good value for the price, and make amiable partners with most anything you put on the table. The Greco, in particular, is stunning with seafood in tomato sauce served atop buckwheat noodles, as per Il Gattopardo Ristorante in New York City.

But, as any savvy business person knows, growth is life. To stay afloat in a competitive market, you must find a way to bring new customers into the fold. Telling your story through art, inviting people to learn about your history and culture, create possibilities for connection. They allow people to see what stands behind that bottle of wine.

With the launch of their Kapemort line, Donnachiara has done just that.

New look for two of Donnachiara’s flagship wines

Note: these wines were provided to me at no cost, as media samples. Opinions expressed are all mine.

Unconventional Wine

Sicilian artist Alex Caminiti, whose collaborations include global brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola, has directed his creative genius toward Naples and the wines of Donnachiara. He envisions the project in broad terms: to “revolutionize what Made in Italy means.”

The business goals are more concrete: to reach out to consumers who enjoy wine but don’t consider themselves connoisseurs, reminding them that a good glass of wine is an accessible pleasure in a life well-lived. In essence, “life is short; drink good wine.”

Art aficionados will find themselves drawn to the vivid artwork on the labels: each bottle displays an original print featuring brightly colored skulls. This is a nod to Neapolitan culture, which is steeped in alchemy, myth, and mystery, especially surrounding the city’s origins and its reverence for the dead.

The Fontanelle Cemetery, in ancient times a watershed for the greater Naples region, is now the resting place for more than 40,000 of the city’s natives. Local tradition encourages (living) citizens to “adopt” one of the capuzzelle (skulls) interred here, each said to represent a soul in Purgatory. In some households, the capuzzelle are named and celebrated, as part of everyday life.

“Who Drinks This Wine Has Already Killed the Bad Luck!”

So says Umberto Petitto, of Donnachiara, echoing a local expression that translates loosely to, “when you drink a good wine, you feel it in the head of death.” A dramatic way of saying that a glass of wine can protect us from bad luck. Who wouldn’t take a few swigs, just to be sure?

I doubled-down on the idea by tasting two wines in the Kapemort line. Here’s my take:

New label, same awesome Greco di Tufo!

2019 Kapemort Megaride Greco di Tufo (13% abv; coming soon to the US market)

Each wine in the Kapemort line has its own story. The Greco di Tufo pays tribute to the mythical island of Megaride, made famous for the tale of Parthenope, the mermaid. In love with Ulysses, who cruelly rejected her, Parthenope leaped to her death from the highest coastal cliff. The sea then carried her body to this island just off the Campanian coast.

Homemade chicken soup and Greco di Tufo. Good for the soul!

I’ve tasted the Donnachiara wines before and, hands down, their Greco di Tufo is always my favorite. Maybe it’s the full body with rich fruit flavors and tart acidity; maybe it’s the lovely pairings from Il Gattopardo in New York City. Whatever the reason, this wine is delicious! White peach, nectarine, and citrus aromas; plushness on the palate balanced by the acid. It’s a great match with many dishes. I paired it with homemade chicken soup – a home run!

Approachable and delicious, this Aglianico is ready to drink now.

2017 Kapemort Averno Irpinia Aglianico (13% abv; coming soon to the US market)

In ancient times, Averno was Hell; even the Aeneid refers to this place, which Virgil calls the “entrance to the underworld.” Today we would recognize the topography as a volcanic crater which, 4,000 years ago, was filled with a seemingly bottomless lake. A dark mirror, perhaps; an image reflected in the artwork by Caminiti.

This wine is textbook Aglianico: deep ruby color, aromas of black cherry and plum, lots of tannin and acidiy. Despite its youth, the Donnachiara Aglianico is pleasant to drink now. Wine lovers who appreciate ripe fruit balanced with ample structure will appreciate it – especially with a meat or game dish.

Spiced turkey burgers (or bombs, as Gabe calls them) ready for the oven!

We made one of our weeknight favorite meals – spiced turkey burgers with lots of shredded cheese on top. The Aglianico worked really well and was a hit with my husband, who usually shies away from tannic wines. If you’ve got a fledgling wine drinker in your crew, this would be a great introduction to red wines with a bit of structure.

More on Kapemort by Donnachiara

In addition to the wines I’ve described in this post, there are other wines available: Beneventano Falanghina; Fiano di Avellino; Campania Aglianico; and Taurasi. I look forward to trying them when they arrive in the US.

For further information on Alex Caminiti and the inspiration behind the Kapemort Donnachiara brand, here is a link to the official brochure:

If you’ve enjoyed exploring the history of Naples through the Kapemort wines and are interested in learning more about Donnachiara in general, here are two other posts I’ve written about them: 2017 and 2018.

And, if you can’t wait to try these wines, please pick up a few of the traditionally labeled bottles. They’re widely available online and through retailers like Total Wine.

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