Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva 1999
As Kirk was pointing out all sorts of intriguing bottles to me while I was browsing around Kits Wine Cellars looking for a tasty wine to pair with the Tortiere (French Canadian spiced meat pie for those whose mother isn’t French Canadian) I was having for dinner tonight, as soon as I saw this 10 year old Aglianico I knew that this is what I’d be picking up. The fact that they even had this is awesome in itself. That it was sitting next to a 1997? Well how many wine stores have a 10 year and 12 year old wine made from a fairly obscure Italian grape sitting side by side on the shelf? Not too many.
Aglianico (pronounced “ah-LYAH-nee-koe”) is an indigenous grape grown in the Campania region of Italy, which is essentially the gateway to the south. I visited Naples, the capital, many years ago but unfortunately was not of the mind to explore wine then the same way I am now. That said, this does seem like the kind of wine that would marry perfectly with the regional cuisine of Campania, which emphasizes simple rustic pizza (along with seafood). Aglianico is a black grape that produces wine both high in tannin and in acidity. However, the wines are also bold and spicy and the hot climate in the south seems to help these grapes ripen easily. While sometimes Aglianico is blended with cab and merlot, this particular wine is 100% aglianico and has DOCG status, being from the Taurasi DOCG. Riserva wines from Taurasi must be aged 4 years prior to release. Mastroberardino is one of the top producers of Aglianico, and the first winery in the region to produce wine for the export market.
The nose on this wine was very expressive and approachable with black cherry, spice, game, damp cedar wood, and a smoky edge. And while this is impressive on the nose, it is in the palate where this wine truly struts its stuff: pepper, spice, cedar, smoke, cigar box again. But, the flavours are deep and complex and evolving with air. This is a very dry wine while also being big and massively flavourful. This would be a good place to start exploring both Italian indigenous grapes and robust yet balanced old world wines if you really like massively styled wines but tend to always go for big cabs, Chateauneuf du Papes, etc. This has all the complexity of a great CDP, but with a decidedly Italianite edge with its smoke, cigar, and pretty red fruit style. This still tastes fresh, despite the 10 years of age, which is a testament to the superb acid of the aglianico grape. And, obviously, the wine itself is just really well made. I cannot recommend this enough both for wine geeks (and aspiring geeks) and for neophytes who want to explore and challenge their palate without having to worry about going so far afield into geekdom that singularity tops flavour. A wine to get a wine lover for Christmas: this has flavour, complexity, power, while also being unique. A superb package.
$82 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars
- Spotlight on Southern Italy: Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2005 « Just Grapes - [...] one exception to this trend was the producer Mastroberardino, whose 1999 Taurasi Aglianico Riserva I’ve written up before and…