Feudi di San Grigorio Serpico 2001

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Founded in 1986, Feudi di San Grigorio is one of Southern Italy’s most important estates. Campania was one of Italy’s original and most important wine producing regions in ancient Roman times, but was lost and forgotten as a region of note until quite recently. Other than the stately Mastroberardino, there was little wine of consequence being made in Campania until the 1990’s. Feudi di San Grigorio is located in the town of Sorbo Serpico in the region of Irpinia, which sits inland from the Amalfi coast by about 50 kilometres. Irpinia is home to the Apennine Mountains, which means high elevation vineyards and volcanic and lime/clay soils. The region also hosts three important DOCGs: Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, and Fiano di Avellino.

Indigene

As with most of Italy, indigenous grapes are key here. For reds, there is none greater in the south than Aglianico, a wine with traits not dissimilar from Nebbiolo, though its flavour profile is entirely distinct. Wines made from Aglianico burst with flavour but also carry a rough intensity that can be hard to subdue. The best producers, however, manage to find finesse amongst the grape’s more dominant brutish characteristics. When coaxed in such a way, Aglianico can make some of the most exciting wines in Italy.

Feudi di San Grigorio makes a number of white and red wines, all from indigenous varieties. They also have apparently partnered with Champagne’s Selosse to make a range of sparkling wines. I would love to get my hands on those.

The Aglianico grapes for the Serpico bottling come from century old vines in the vineyards surrounding the estate. The wine is fermented in steel and raised in new oak for 18 months prior to bottling.

Age and Distinction

One of the classic lines for those drinking older wines is “I can’t believe how youthful/how fruity this wine is given the age”. This wine exemplified how misleading such comments are. It is not the fruit or freshness that is astonishing with old wines, but rather the fact that great old wines retain balance and vivacity while delivering extremely complex secondary flavours. These flavours can go unnoticed as drinkers focus on the still extant tannins and fruit. But this mistakes the obvious for the miraculous and overlooks the subtle truth of older wine.

I’ve read a number of negative reviews of this wine on Cellartracker and I completely disagree with all of them that this is somehow disjointed or still overly tannic. This is, pure and true, Aglianico, which must come with rough edges as much as profundity. This is the nature of Aglianico – brutish intensity that can never be fully tamed. But this wine is not just brute strength – it is also brutishly intellectually intense, with aromas and flavours that overwhelm: a field of clover flowers being turned into honey by bumble bees. Tarry, bloody savory flavours predominantly driven by volcanic umami. A mid-palate that sheers your expectations and opens as time-lapse photography. A finish with great elegance, proving that these ancient vines are in the right hands.

Excellent+
$75 at Esquin (this wine is also available occasionally at private stores in BC)

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