Aglianico is one of the most revered wines of Campania. In this article we review several Aglianico single varietals and blends. Aglianico is the principal grape of the DOCG Taurasi, which is grown in the province of Avellino (see map). It is frequently blended with another Campania grape, Piedirosso, named for its red colored stems. It is also blended with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for IGT/IGP wines.
Aglianico is usually very tannic when young, but as it ages the tannins become softer and more integrated. Most bottlings require a minimum of five years after release before they are ready to drink, and they can last for a minimum of 10 to 15 years. The abundant tannins and high acidity of Aglianico-based wines make them perfect candidates for extended aging. It’s a full bodied wine that pairs well with rich meat dishes.
The producers whose wines we review here are among the elite of the elite in Campania: Feudi di San Gregorio, Fattoria Galardi, Mastroberardino, Montevetrano, and Terradora di Paolo. See our Report # 6 The Wines of Southern Italy for reviews of other producers in Campania and elsewhere in Southern Italy.
The most famous Aglianico wines come from Taurasi. Taurasi is 1300’ above sea level with volcanic and limestone soils. It was recognized as a DOCG in 1993. Regulations require that Taurasi consist of at least 85% Aglianico; the other 15% can be Piedirosso or Barbera or Sangiovese. Taurasi must be aged at least one year in oak, while the Taurasi Riserva must have two years in oak. The wines are especially dense and concentrated with very firm tannins. Aged Taurasi often acquires gamey, forest floor notes.
Feudi di San Gregorio was established in 1986 in a joint venture between two families of Irpinia in Campania. The wines are made by owner and winemaker Enzo Ercolino with the assistance of consulting winemaker Riccardo Cotarella. Having constructed a modern winemaking facility and aging cellar in 2004, Feudi is clearly at the forefront of winemaking in Campania. (It is also a top travel destination with a gourmet restaurant and other facilities). Importer: Palm Bay Imports
Feudi di San Gregorio 2012 Rubrato Aglianico Irpinia Aglianico ($20) 91 A bit shy on the nose, but the beautifully flavored palate more than compensates. The wine has a soft, lush attack and concentrated flavors of dark cherry, licorice, and spice. Finishes long and dense. Superb value! Feudi di San Gregorio 2007 Piano di Montevergine Taurasi ($50) 95 This single vineyard Aglianico is superb. It’s beautifully balanced, full-bodied and luxurious with soft round tannins and a very long, rich finish. Shows high toned dark red fruit. Internationally styled with 18 months in French barriques.
Fattoria Galardi Galardi makes just one wine, the Roccamonfina Terra di Lavoro, from its 10 ha vineyard planted on the basaltic slopes of the Roccamonfina volcano at 1300’ altitude. A blend of 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso, the wine spends about 14 months in oak barriques, 70% new. Riccardo Cotarella is the consulting winemaker. Importer: Winebow
Galardi 2011 Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina IGT ($90) 93 The 2011 Roccamonfina is unrevealing in its youth, requiring extended time in bottle to fully open and reveal itself. However, this bottling already shows remarkable elegance and precision. It reveals minerals, ash, and dense dark fruit on a focused palate with firm, dry tannins. Galardi 2010 Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina IGT ($90) 95 Subtly scented and firmly structured, this is a young wine that shows incredible promise. It reveals notes of graphite, wet loam, black tea and dark berry fruit on one of the most silky smooth, refined palates ever in this wine. Beautiful and absolutely delicious, but those with patience will be amply rewarded. Galardi 2009 Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina IGT ($90) 92 The 2009 Roccamonfina has begun to open up, revealing complex aromas and flavors. The wine has a smoky meaty underbrush and loamy character complemented by slate-like minerals and dark fruit. It’s lush on a broad palate with fine, firm tannins.
Mastroberardino The.Mastroberardino family, especially the late Antonio Mastroberardino, is recognized for its leadership in identifying and preserving ancient grape varieties. For much of the 20th century, this winery alone was responsible for 90 percent of the Taurasi DOCG production. Its Taurasi wines are sometimes called the “Barolos of the south” for their strong tannins and tar and earth aromas. The Radici Taurasi is Mastroberardino’s flagship wine sourced from the Mirabella Eclano vineyard. The winemaker is Massimo Di Renzo. Importer: Winebow
Mastroberardino 2013 Radici Fiano di Avellino ($30) 90+ Sourced from a single vineyard located near hazelnut orchards, the Fiano di Avellino is intriguing and complex with saline notes on entry and a perfumed palate that reveals smoke, earth and minerals, finishing with superb persistence. Mastroberardino 2008 Radici Taurasi ($35) 93 This 100% Aglianico is silky smooth, rich and ready to drink . It reveals notes of underbrush, smoked meat, and clove-like spice on a balanced and densely flavored palate.
Montevetrano Produced by owner and photographer Silvio Imparato with the assistance of consulting winemaker, Riccardo Cotarella, Montevetrano is both modern and international in style. Aglianico plays a minor role in this blend, which is typically 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Aglianico. The vineyard is in Salerno, just 2 km from the sea. Annual production is 30 thousand bottles. Importer: Winebow
Montevetrano 2011 Montevetrano Colli di Salerno IGP ($90) 94 A big, dense, dark fruited wine that’s also soft, round and integrated. It’s international in style with a silky smooth attack, although the tannins are firm and dry. Notes of coffee, licorice, and black currant show on the nose and palate.
Terradora di Paolo When brothers Antonio and Walter Mastroberardino split their business in 1993, Antonio kept the winery name, but Walter kept the key vineyards and started Terredora in the village of Montefusco. Today, it has about 200 ha of vines, which supply most of the winery’s needs. Walter’s son Lucio is the winemaker. Importer: VIAS
Terradora di Paolo 2008 Fatica Contadina Taurasi Campania ($32) 94 A bit shy on the nose at this stage, but on the palate this wine is complex and layered, showing concentrated flavors of dried dark cherries, earthy tobacco, and bitter chocolate. The wine is mouth filling with a lovely soft, lush texture but firm dry tannins on the finish. Needs at least 5 years more bottle age. Terradora di Paolo 2008 Pago dei Fusi Taurasi Campania ($65) 95 The Pago dei Fusi offers effusive scents of Asian spice, licorice and rose petals and an equally complex earthy, coffee, and black currant palate. It’s densely flavored with a soft, lush mouth feel. Elegance with power.