Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici 2007

mastroberardino-radici-taurasiWhen one ponders the so-called great wines of Italy – those considered age-worthy by collectors, that always have premium prices, and that get wine geeks all sorts of fired up – one typically stays put in Northern Italy. There are the Killer Bs: Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello, as well as Amarone and those high-end SuperTuscans, but Montalcino is about as far south as one needs go.

Then there’s Taurasi. Though the emergence of regions such as Etna and Vulture may be changing the landscape, Taurasi has long been the sole region south of Rome worthy of mention among its more kingly northern cousins (hence its nickname “the Barolo of Southern Italy”). Wines of this DOCG are made from Aglianico (a-lee-ahn-ih-co) a grape that does have some similarities to Barolo’s Nebbiolo in that it can be quite austere, and is known for intense aromatics of tar, earth and tobacco.

Mastrobeardino was the only producer exporting Taurasi before the mid-90s, although now much more variety is available stateside. Though large, the winery remains committed to protecting and preserving the ancient wines of Irpina (the area surrounding the Apennines in Campania), of which Aglianico is the flagship variety, as signified in the name “Radici”, meaning roots.

Bringing it all together, this preamble is my way of pointing out that Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici on Chairman’s Selection offers a unique opportunity to taste one of the great bottles of Italian wine. And, at $40 (which is about $5-8 lower than other online stores), its price is more reasonable than what one might pay for top of the line Barolo, Brunello, etc.

Is it worth the splurge? For me, $40 is past the boundary of everyday buys, veering into the territory of special occasion wines and those to lay down for many years, and this wine certainly fits in that category. Other reviewers of this particular bottle (Wine Advocate-94, Spectator-91 and James Suckling-93) all seem to think it is very drinkable now, but also capable of evolving and holding for at least 10 more years, and I would certainly agree based on the pedigree at play here.

I decanted it and tasted it over the course of 6 hours, plus held a glass to try on the next day. Initially, the wine evolved nicely, developing a strong tobacco element mixed with cedar and underbrush. The dark berries play a part, but this can hardly be described as fruity. Austere and full-bodied, sure, although very well-balanced at 14% ABV. The assertive acidity makes this a killer food wine – I paired it with beef braciole – as it is definitely not one to enjoy alone at cocktail hour. On Day 2, the wine’s flavor was quite similar to Day 1, suggesting there’s plenty of stuffing here for the long haul.

Note: A review sample was provided for this wine.

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