2016 Mastroberardino, Taurasi “Radici,” $57
Winery Info: The Mastroberardino family has been growing and producing wine in southern Italy’s Campania region since the mid-18th century. When Antonio Mastroberardino returned to his family estate after World War II he found it in ruins. He restored the property and vineyards and, while other winemakers were planting international grapes, he focused on preserving the region’s indigenous varietals, Fiano, Greco, and Aglianico. Today the family is credited with preserving these once nearly extinct grapes and is considered one of the most important producers in the region. They are located in the Taurasi DOCG, where the high elevation and volcanic soil produces some of the highest quality and most ageable wines in southern Italy. Radici, which translates as “roots,” is their flagship wine.
Grapes: 100% Aglianico, from two high-elevation estate vineyards, Montemarano and Mirabella Eclano. Aged 24 months in French oak barriques and Slavonian casks, plus 24 months in bottle.
Flavor Profile: This is a classic Aglianico, complex and intense, with notes of violets, plum, white pepper, and savory spice. The oak is well integrated and the tannins moderate, but it will continue to soften and open up, even over several days, becoming mellower and letting the dark fruit flavors shine through.
Availability: The distributor still has some left of this vintage.
Drinking window: While drinking well now, you could give it a few more years of aging, then enjoy anytime up to 2035.
Food Pairing: A great wine for lamb, braised or slow-roasted meats, or osso buco. Or try it with bucatini all’Amatriciana or arrabiata.
2018 Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre “La Côte des Monts Damnés,” $35
Winery info: The Bourgeois family has been producing wines in Sancerre, in France’s eastern Loire Valley, for ten generations. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that Henri Bourgeois began to expand their holdings beyond their two hectares on the slopes around their village of Chavignol. Today the estate has vineyards in various sites throughout Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. One of those is Monts Damnés, an extremely steep, south-facing slope with Kimmeridgian marl soil composed of fossilized sea shells and clay. This is one of the most coveted sites in Sancerre and only a few producers own vineyards here. Henri Bourgeois has one of the prime sites, straddling the top of the hill.
Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard: Le Monts Damnés, arguably Sancerre’s greatest vineyard. It gets its name, “the damn mountains,” from the fact that it is so steep all work must be done painstakingly by hand. But winemakers persevere because the site produces amazingly complex wines, with depth, power, and stunning minerality.
Flavor Profile: Concentrated, yet delicate, with vibrant fruit flavors and citrus notes and the amazing minerality you expect from Monts Damnés fruit. With balancing depth and complexity.
Availability: This wine is still in good supply.
Drinking window: Enjoy anytime over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Always a wonderful wine for shellfish. Or you could enjoy it with grilled trout, lighter pork dishes, goat cheese (from Chavignol, of course), or light Asian fare.