Aglianico (Ah-yah’-nee-co) is one of the world’s greatest grapes for making complex age-worthy wines. The variety is starting to take hold in the Sierra Foothills with Amador Cellars, Vino Noceto, and Starfield making some world-class versions. It is most famously grown in the Taurasi appellation in Campania in southern Italy. Let’s explore these Taurasi wines!
Taurasi wines are so high in tannin and acidity, they are sometimes referred to as the Barolo of the South even though they taste nothing like Barolo. However, because of the structural similarities, they do age similarly. The tannins and acidity create a shield that takes decades to penetrate.
As you can see from the Aroma curve, the primary aromas last a long, long time. A 25-year-old Taurasi can easily be mistaken for a wine freshly bottled. There is a big payoff, though, for the patient drinkers. The tertiaries may take a long time to develop, but when they do, they are amazing… dried red and black fruit along with licorice, dried sweet spices, and white chocolate. Whenever I drink Taurasi, I think of Miles in The Holiday telling Iris about her theme song, “I used only the good notes.”
Owing to the slow development and the lingering primaries, Taurasi has perhaps the longest drinking windows for each of the three tasting styles (the Modern Drinker, the Aged Wine Lover, and the Old Soul), and there is a lot of overlap making this a bit of a crowd pleaser. Old Souls might have a wait awhile for these primaries to fade, though… if they ever even do!
It is hard to find old versions of Tauraso, and exceptionally hard to find exceptionally old versions. Taurasi is both tiny and somewhat in its infancy (by Old World standards anyway). DOCG status was granted in 1993. Before that, the region was dominated by a single producer, Mastroberardino (who is still making some of the best wine in the region, especially the Radici). Now there are dozens of quality producers and hundreds of vineyards, but these only total about 1000 Ha (half the size of Barolo).
The fact of the matter is I’ve only had a few bottles more than 40 years old, so I don’t really know what happens super late in life. I can only guess. All I know is that I’m grabbing as many of these bottles as I can, packing them away in a deep dark place, and praying I live long enough to enjoy them in their glory.