2017 Mastroberardino, Taurasi, “Radici,” $64
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 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, aged 24 months in French oak barriques and Slavonian casks, followed by 24 months in bottle.
Vineyard: Montemarano, a historic southeast-facing site in Taurasi with clay soils at 1,650 to 2,100 feet elevation; and Mirabella, a southwest-facing site planted on deep, sandy loam soils with traces of limestone, clay, and volcanic matter at 1,150 to 1,475 feet elevation.
Flavor Profile: This is a classic Aglianico, complex and intense, with dark fruit flavors and notes of violets, plum, white pepper, and distinctive savory spice. The well integrated oak and moderate tannins will continue to soften and open up once opened, even over several days.
Availability: This vintage is almost gone.
Drinking Window: While you could enjoy it sooner, it should be at its best anytime from 2030 to 2035.
Food Pairing: A great wine for lamb, braised or slow-roasted meats, or osso buco, perhaps with gremolata sauce. Or try it with bucatini all’Amatriciana or arrabiata.
2018 I Clivi, Brazan, $35
Winery Info: Based in Italy’s northeastern Friuli region, i Clivi was founded by Ferdinando Zanusso who has since been joined by his son Mario. They have vineyards in two distinct and highly esteemed areas: the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC and the Collio Goriziano DOC, and they seek to produce wines that fully express the unique terroir of each site. Their 60- to 80-year-old vines are dry farmed, certified organic, and grow on the unique chalky clay soil in their region, known as ponca.
Grapes: 90% Friulano and 10% Malvasia Istriana, aged 18 months on the lees in stainless steel. Friulano is an important grape in the white wines of Friuli, known for producing light, floral wines, with notes of almond.
Vineyard: From their certified organic Brazan Vineyard, in Brazzano di Cormons on the Slovenian border. It is a more humid site, with more diurnal temperature variation.
Flavor Profile: The combination of older vines and the Ponca soil produces a light, yet complex wine, and aging in stainless steel maintains the focus and definition of the fruit. It is very expressive, with subtle notes of pink grapefruit, peach, and a touch of anise. With good acidity and a nice hint of salinity.
Availability: The distributor has about seven cases of this wine left.
Drinking Window: It is drinking great now, although you could let it age another two or three years.
Food Pairing: Try it with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus topped with poached egg.