It wasn’t really a promise. More like a comment. A comment made by Antonio Dente , agronomist for Mastroberardino, last fall after a visit to their vineyards of Montemarano and Santo Stefano in Avellino. Back from a muddy version of Vineyard Hopping where I got a chance to see grapes on the vine that had developed that beautiful muffa nobile . Aglianico and Fiano grapes on their way to becoming Mastroberardino’s dessert wines.
That afternoon Antonio mentioned that the next time I visited, we could see what was going on in the winery and taste their Melìzie and Anthères passitos along with Massimo Di Renzo, Mastrobeardino’s winemaker. A couple of weeks ago, that statement came to life. After a few emails, phone calls, and scheduling changes, the day arrived where I could sit down in the comfort of Mastroberardino’s wine tasting room and have a mini wine tasting lesson on passito-Mastroberadino’s muffa nobile in a glass.
We began with Melìzie Fiano Passito 2008. A passito that I was familiar with. One I had tried on various occasions at Radici Resort, most recently with chef Francesco Spagnuolo’s mille foglie con crème de amarene. But the intention here was have me start with a base. A beginning. To try their last passito before they started using Fiano grapes that had developed botrytis cinera on the vine. We observed and discussed our glass that shared a golden yellow color and aromas such as apricots and candied fruits. I sipped while our conversation continued. I experienced flavors similar to an orange jam with a hazelnut aftertaste…a light note of toasted wood. It was important to begin with this glass. Because this glass would help me to understand the next.
Photo courtesy of Mastroberardino.
Photo courtesy of Mastroberardino
A wine tasting is divided into three parts…you look, you smell, you taste. So as Di Renzo poured, I noticed that same gorgeous golden color that I had seen in the previous glass. I brought my nose to the glass…here is where the differences began. Sweeter…più dolce. As I tasted, I was beginning to understand the diversity…here I discovered flavors that were more complex, more intense in respect to 2008. Candied citrus, exotic fruits, dried figs to name a few. This passito was more concentrated and had a longer aftertaste. I was wondering where the grapes were that I had seen on the vinel ast November. Dente smiled…resting in the vat…maybe next time. Because now it was time to try another wine.
|Aglianico grapes in Mastroberardino's Montemarano Vineyard right before the harvest.|
As my mini lesson was coming to a close, I realized that what an opportunity I had to sit down with Mastrobeardino’s wine maker and agronomist. To open one of only 1,500 bottles of this particular passito. To taste along with them as they reflected on their hard labor in the vineyards and cantina….Then I asked about the grapes that I had seen that muddy afternoon in Montemarano last November…
Magari la prossima volta….next time
Ok…Ok…ho capito…I understand…
another comment…another promise….another time…