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The peninsula of Sorrento, a place of great beauty whose temperate climate and rugged coastline have long attracted travellers from all over the world, boasts three subcategories of wine appellations: Lettere, Gragnano and Sorrento. Pliny, Galen, and Strabo have sung the praises of these wines. Sante Lacerio, cupbearer of Pope Paul III, recounts that the pontiff liked drinking Sorrento wine on warm summer evenings. Sorrento wine, he said, was excellent to quench one's thirst and was a "true gentleman's wine," he claimed with good reason. Lettere and Gragnano, on the other hand, were the favourites of Italian author Mario Soldati. "Lettere is a small village of four or five houses scattered above Gragnano.... It is also a literary wine; literary in the sense that it is unreal.... An Alpine, rupicolous, pastoral landscape and, at once, very thick vegetation. Minute valleys, rises, pre-Romanesque hillocks. And, between the vineyards, ilexes, walnuts and chestnuts hanging over the plain of Pompeii, within sight of Castellammare di Stabia and the Bay of Naples, the distant islands and the Vesuvius. Finally, the Gragnano.... a small, but truly unbeatable wine. Dark, deep ruby red; a vinous, rural taste; slightly sparkly, even frothy when young - a froth that goes flat quickly and disappears forever.... and with a smoky bouquet, a very pleasant aftertaste similar to the infinitely more volatile smoky aftertaste of malt whiskey. In spite of its colour, it had to be drunk cold, at cellar, rather than room, temperature." Although confined for a long time to a low segment of the market, this little, great wine - known as the traditional wine of genuine Neapolitan households - has been brought back to its past glory thanks to the efforts of a few winemakers and has been given the D.O.C. appellation. It is now the darling of many demanding wine lovers 

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