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16/07/2013

Tasting Taurasi with Piero Mastroberardino

by Tom Chadwick (Trade Sales)

Mastroberardino is the royal family of Campania” –Antonio Galloni, eRobertParker.com

Tasting MastroberardinoSeveral weeks ago Alex Corbisiero was in Argentina when he got the late call to join up with the Lions out in Australia – as has happened in the past, a la Ryan Jones, the late call-up can sometimes be a real triumph.

Last Friday afternoon I was called from the tropics of Greece with instructions (not to fly to Australia to join up with the Lions, sadly) but instead to attend a tasting in Mayfair of several vintages of the legendary Taurasi DOCG’s. It was was with huge excitement that I accepted and made my way! The Taurasi Riservas are well known to the BI team largely due to our resident in-house Italian expert and Head of Purchasing ‘Signore Sharpie’... the opportunity to taste through a wide range of vintages does not come along very often so it was with considerable excitement that I headed on down to Davies Street.

The tasting was hosted by Professor Piero Mastroberardino, the great-grandson, and it was one of the most enjoyable tastings I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to. The Mastroberardino family has remained fastidiously loyal to the indigenous varieties of the region - even after the damage caused by phylloxera and during World War II - deciding to shun  the higher-yielding varieties like sangiovese and merlot which are favoured by so many. Just 30 minutes drive from the Amalfi coast and yet the same distance from ski slopes, the estate lies in Campania whose landscape is dominated by Mount Vesuvius. The real feather in the cap is their majestic Taurasi DOCG: volcanic soil and high altitude vineyards find their most noble expression in the cultivation of Aglianico – a variety I will put money on that many of you have never heard of before.

The grapes that go into Taurasi come from one of the finest crus in the appellation, at 550 metres above sea level, called Montemarano and although relatively unknown by the larger wine drinking community, the Aglianico grape produces wines of great concentration, acidity and evident ageing capability. No new oak is used and this allows the sumptuous Aglianico fruit to shine through with the added integration of subtly attractive spices.

“There are some grape varieties that, like Cary Grant and Catherine Deneuve, exude class. Aglianico, a speciality of Campania and Basilicata in the hinterland of Naples, is one of these.”  Jancis Robinson, ‘In Praise of Aglianico’ July 2010

What the estate achieves so effortlessly is the preservation of their history whilst adding touches of innovation - all in the name of perfection and the continued flag waving of Italy’s indigenous varieties.

These wines are so beautifully individual and really capture the imagination; sumptuous fruit, integrated oak and spices and exceedingly long concentrated finishes. I have some in my cellar already and will be adding to the collection. This is a wine to buy, age and consume.

It’s worth noting that due to its ageing capabilities this wine is a great alternative to lay down for anniversary years….

2008 Radici Taurasi DOCG
‘Voluptuous forest fruit aromas, spices and a superb structure’
-92 Pts BI

2007 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘more refined, raspberry fruit, brilliant minerality/graphite and freshness. Long, long finish’
-94+ Pts BI

2006 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘starting to show a little more development, vegetal notes, leathery aromas. Again – lovely balance and a glorious finish’
-94 Pts BI

1999 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘beautifully perfumed, textured, lovely spice, silky balance and utterly gorgeous – my wine of the tasting’
-96 + Pts BI

1998 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘perhaps not as balanced as the 1999 and the oak is a touch noticeable however it is certainly one to consume now’
-92 Pts BI

1997 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘lovely developed aromas, leathery, cheese rind etc this is fuller than the above vintages with juicy and fleshy fruit’
-93 Pts BI

1980 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘Birth Year alert….tobacco, spice, chocolate notes – for a 33 yr old wine this has stunning freshness and a very clean and elegant finish’
-94  Pts BI

1968 Radici Taurasi, Riserva DOCG
‘on the nose this reminded me of Boal, again, characteristic clove spice, leather and lovely minerality. The freshness is fantastic for its age with a lovely authentic rustic nature too. Balanced, elegant and with a superbly long finish’
-96 Pts BI