I had exchanged telephone calls a couple of times with Flavio before we discovered that his house is about 40 metres from our B&B. He drove us to his father-in-law’s small winery where we found a hive of activity. The first picking of the Aglianico has already been vinified and was now being pumped over with great vigour to oxygenate it. The operation was being supervised by Prof Moschetti from Marsala (who teaches in Palmero but spends several days a week here, partly to conduct his micro-biological research) and his doctoral student. Quite a gathering for a small family concern.
After the history of Mastroberardino, it’s great to visit the small innovator. The double harvest of aglianico is one example – the first harvest to reduce the load on the plant and produce a first red for early drinking and the second to give as much hang time to the Taurasi as possible. After much discussion, we tasted wines from the cask – the very unusual white, Greco Muscio 2008 (the grape also know as Rovello), with powerful mineral and then vegetal notes. More typical was the Vigna Coste Macchia 2007, Aglianico, with blackberry and leather on the nose and the trademark acidity and tannins. If this Taurasi tasted unfinished, it was – it won’t be sold until 2011. Here well inland, the acidity of the soil is treated by a three yearly dose of seaweed and otherwise left in peace. The last treatment they carried out was three months ago in July.
Walking up to the tasting room (which in time will be the family’s country house), we passed 60-70 year old vines trained in the old-fashioned starseto style. This system was valued by the peasant growers because the vine and grapes are well out of the way, so you can grow vegetables below.
This was a leisurely tasting, allowing the wines to develop in the glass. Grecomusc’ 2007, the startling local white, apparently only made here, has a smell like a box of matches, graphite, a really smoky nose; almonds and general vegetation follow. The second wine was straight Aglianico IGT for early drinking, though in fact this was a declassified Taurasi of 2006, a difficult year in this sub-zone (contrast Molletieri). This was of medium weight with some bitter cherry and balsamic aromas. Finally, Taurasi 2004, a top year, obviously treated to some old barrels, leather and tobacco, much more balsamic, dark cherries and blackberries, still high acid but tannins beginning to go silky. The home team were already thinking of dinner with a 25 year old bottle of Sauternes … they supplied us with an excellent tip for lunch (see di Prisca) and we walked back in the sunshine to the village.
Bunches of Aglianico for the late-picked Taurasi