It was nearly two years ago that I had my first verticale...a vertical wine tasting during Vitigno Italia in Naples, Italy. I was invited by Mastroberardino Winery. My blog was fairly new, I had just started my I level AIS Sommelier course...heck, I didn't even know what a vertical wine tasting was. :-) But I had the chance to taste a wide range of their Taurasi's dating as far back as 1968!
A lot has changed since then. Over the past two years, I have had the chance to spend time with Mastroberadino on numerous occasions, walking the vineyards, tasting their wines, questioning, learning, and growing. I have also completed my sommelier course. So it seemed fitting that one of my first serious sit down tastings as a sommelier would be spent with my Aglianico, my Piedirosso, and my Taurasi with Mastroberardino during Vinitaly last March.
My hosts were winemaker Massimo Di Renzo and agronomist Antonio Dente. The first glass...a colorful, profumatic rose' -Lacrimarosa Campania IGT Rosato 2011.
100 % Aglianico. Rosa...pink ish ...just like we Americans like it, I was told by Di Renzo, with a smile. A product of a light delicate pressing and then vinified white in stainless steel.
We continued...Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso DOC 2011. Here we have a wine which is 100% Piedirosso from the volcanic soils around Mt Vesuvius. A Lacryma with a promise...full...flavorful...young. Young but already expressing the territory, the terrain...the minerality found in that part of Campania.
A new glass...a new wine. The latest vintage of their base Aglianico Campania IGT 2010. Produced from various vineyards...spends close to 10 months in barriques then 6 months in the bottle before release. My nose to the glass noted that comforting familiar aroma of mature red fruit such as plums and cherries. Taste...Lightly tannic which is fine by me...telling me that I can enjoy this wine now...but I can also let it age in my small cantina.
Ready to continue? I was asked, noting that Dente had changed my glass again and was ready to serve me a wine that I was waiting for; Redimore Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2010. He reminded me that this wine was made from vineyards that we had walked together several months earlier in Mirabella Eclano (Av). Vineyards that shared space with Radici Resort Golf Course...Morabianca Restaurant. I couldn't help but be reminded of the sunny days spent there as I placed my nose into the glass. This was one of my Aglianicos, planted in Mirabella back in 2004...a cutting from a clone from an Aglianico vineyard which dates back at least 140 years! cuttings that were grafted into Piedirosso vines that were on the property in 2007 and 2008.
Next it was time for a young Radici. The black labeled Taurasi DOCG 2007 from vineyards in Montemarano and Mirabella. Mastrobeardino waited an extra year before releasing this Tuarasi, in fact, I had tasted it a back in January during Anteprima Taurasi 2008. 2 years in oak...2 years in the bottle to produce a Taurasi that they felt their market would appreciate with its smoothness, its light tannins, its deep aromas.
The tasting continued...we were no longer in Verona...we were walking the vineyards, so to speak...tasting the territory, exploring the vintages...Taurasi Riseva DOCG 2005 brought me back to Mirabella Eclano, to a harvest year that called for an early harvest.
We stayed in Mirabella to taste Historia Taurasi DOCG 2005 and 2006. A mini verticale to note the differences between the two harvest years...2006, Dente shared, was a difficult year. Much more rain which meant that the grapes matured later. The result: my glass of 2006 was fresher and fruitier than the 2005. It was also less concentrated. That is the beauty of a side by side tasting of different vintages.
New glasses to finish off the tasting: Radici Taurasi Riserva DOCG 1999, 1998, and Taurasi 1997. A chance to observe how this wine changes with time. How Taurasi is a wine that evolves...deepens...relaxes with age. Ruby red colors start to darken, change. Fruit aromas began to concentrate...Tannins that were aggressive years earlier have calmed down.
This is what tasting the older vintages should teach you.
Teach you...because though two years have passed. Though I have done countless tastings, vineyard visits, and verticals. Though I am a sommelier, I am still a student who strongly believes that every glass is an opportunity to learn.
And who knows? Who will evolve more two years from now...Historia 2005...or me?