Aversa is one of the two places in Italy most famous for its Mozzarella di Bufala (Caserta is the other). And don't I know it. I ate my weight in the precious stuff during my time living between Ischia and Naples. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to a so-fresh-it's-warm ball of true water buffalo mozzarella oozing with milk. The milk of said beast is particularly high in fat, which means it is particularly delicious. No imitator can be tolerated after being ruined on the real thing. (Don't even try, upscale grocery store!)
Neapolitans are so proud (SO. PROUD.) to call this one of their many regional gifts to the world. A slice the size of a ham steak is but a snack, incapable of adding girth to the thighs of anyone and in fact, is nothing less than a nutritional miracle. Just ask any mamma italiana.
Mozzarella in Carrozza (mozzarella in a carriage) is the name of a dish prepared like this: put a generous slice of fresh mozzarella between two slices of bread, dip it in flour and egg, then pan-fry. One can only imagine the crunch which gives way to the soft, fragrant and gooey interior. Mamma mia! And it just begs for a simple glass of high-acid, Aversa DOC. Enjoy.
Text below adapted from: Del Canuto, Francesco et al., Il vino italiano, panorama vitivinicolo attraverso le denominazioni di origine, Associazione Italiana Sommeliers (Bertani & C.), Milano, 2010 (2002), fourth edition.
Recognized as DOC 8/12/93
Production Zone: includes the townships of Aversa, Carinaro, Casal di Principe, Casaluce, Casapesanna, Cesa, Frignano, Gricignano di Aversa, Lusciano, Orta di Atella, Parete, San Cipriano d'Aversa, San Marcellino, Sant'Arpino, Succivo, Teverola, Trentola-Ducenta, Villa di Briano e Villa Literno, all in the province of Caserta; Giuliano in Campania, Qualiano e Sant'Antimo in the province of Naples
Yield: max 12 tons per hectare
Grape Variety: Asprinio, min 85%
Minimum alcohol: 10.5%
Aging potential: on average, 1 year
Spumante: made with 100% Asprinio with a minimum alcohol of 11%. In the case of vineyards trained using the "alberata aversana" style of vine training (an environmental and cultural contribution of the appellation), the yield cannot exceed 4 kilograms of grapes/sq meter of wall and 240 kg of grapes per plant, with a maximum number 50 plants per hectare
Alberata or Vigneti ad alberata: wines made in the Aversa appellation using grapes obtained from vineyards planted using the alberata aversana method must include Alberata or Vigneti ad Alberata on the label.
Also, Asprinio can precede the name of the appellation on the label, for example, Asprinio di Aversa DOC
The production area, which includes 22 townships in what used to be Liburia,** is identified by its Asprinio vineyards trained to poplar trees, which act as stakes or supports for the vines. This method of pruning creates large green walls that can reach up to 15 meters [roughly 45 ft] in height. This white grape variety, by name, reveals its distinction among other grapes--its intense acidity. If great care isn't taken in the vineyards and the winery, the acidity can become too aggressive.
The problem with most producers of this wine is that they source their grapes from growers and are therefore unable to intervene in the vineyards to help improve the quality of the end product.
This unique style vine training is of Etruscan origin. Although it is striking to behold, pruning is extremely difficult at the tops of the plants.
One producer of note is using canopy pruning, with more plants per hectare and lower grape yields. The result is a wine that, perhaps, doesn't reflect the tipicity of the grape variety in that the wine is less acidic. (In the debate over typicity vs. defect we risk a never-ending argument...) Without a doubt though, the wine is more enjoyable because it's softer. It is in this vein that the producer is aging some if his wine in 7, 10, and 15 hL oak barrels for 1 year. [Here we go again with the barriques!]
Although only humble results are obtained using the Charmat method, sparkling wine made from Asprinio is delightful as an aperitif. Still wine from the appellation pairs well with seafood salad, fish dishes, pizzas, calzones, and the famous mozzarella in carozza. [See intro]
Asprinio is also used in the production of passito (dried-grape wine) in the appellation Terre al Volturno IGT.
**Liburia is the ancient name for the area known today as Terra di Lavoro (Southern Lazio and Northern Campania). The Latin name is derived from the word Leborini who were an ancient tribe that inhabited the area. The modern name, Terra di Lavoro means "land of work."