2009 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva
No…..it’s not the 1998 we sold last year. You’ll have to do at least some of the cellaring work yourself, but it’s no less delicious!
Aglianico, when grown in Taurasi, Campania’s Ground Zero for the grape, and given enough time for its native southern Italian tannins to mellow, can become gorgeously nuanced and a thorough a joy to drink. Its complex aromas, so redolent of Campania’s warm sunshine, native flora and volcanic origins, evoke the same sort of response that Barolo lovers experience when pairing a perfectly cellared Nebbiolo with a finely braised piece of beef. In Taurasi, it’s mostly likely lamb….often grilled whole over vine cuttings onto which piles of local wild fennel and other herbs have been heaped. It’s one of those a-ha experiences we wish for everyone! The next best thing might be trying it at home with a bone-in lamb leg studded with garlic and herbs and grilled low and slow. We have the wine for it right here.
The allusion to Barolo was not arbitrary. For those not familiar with the wine, the appellation of Taurasi is routinely called by many Italian wine lovers ‘the Barolo of the south’ while those in Taurasi sardonically refer to Barolo as the ‘Taurasi of the north!’ Aglianico, like Nebbiolo, comes dressed in a ruddy cherry-ish crimson that belies an incredible amount of concentration, impressive depth and, often, a curtain of real rustic tannins. A good Taurasi often requires, like Barolo, a decade or so for the edges to round out and for the wine to grow into its tannic robe. This just-released 2009 Riserva is just about there. Its once rough-and-ready tannins have folded themselves back into the wine and revealed, in their stead, a set of more layered aromas built around sweet confitted cherry fruit, the anise that grows seemingly around every rock and from every crack in the concrete in the entire region, and a subtle, pliant earthy-mineral component that comes from old, old vines grown on pure volcanic soil. Ready to drink with that aforementioned lamb, it also goes very well whenever fresh herbs and good meat or cheese are part of the equation. One of my most memorable pairings was on the beach at Positano on the Amalfi Coast with a giant charcoal-grilled, rare tuna steak in a spicy chili brodo. Very delicious! Mastroberardino’s Riservae are legendary for their ability to cellar and this 2009 will do so very well for many decades if you’ve got ‘em.
Buy a six-bottle case and we’ll give you the distinctive hinged wooden box too.
- John Rittmaster