Radici del Sud 2014 – Day 3

The third day, Thursday 5 July, was also dedicated entirely to producer meetings. Again, a lovely mixture of old acquaintances and new discoveries.

Among the “old friends” I particularly noted the following:

Tenuta Monaci/Severino Garofano were in fine form, as always. There is a constance with this producer that few others can show. That is not to say that there aren’t vintage variations and tiny changes here and there, but the level of winemaking and territorial fidelity are just very high. Highlights here included a lovely Girofle 2013 rosé, back in old, juicy/sapid Salentine form (2012 was just a tad soft due to a torrid vintage) and the complex, large but fresh and rounded negroamaro Le Braci 2006.

Tenuta Petrera/Fatalone, organic and sound therapy pioneers from Gioia del Colle, were particularly showcasing their Primitivo Riserva 2006, a large, complex, minerally wine with firm structure and good freshness; a lovely terroir wine.

Biodynamic Cefalicchio, from the Castel del Monte area, has been taken over by Feudi di San Gregorio, but will continue with its own identity and own label. The range is well made, and noteworthy wines included the lovely moscato bianco Jalal 2013, a lovely, minerally wine with elegant aromatic notes of apple, flowers and soft green herbs and notable elegance, as well as the Rosso Canosa Riserva Romanico 2009, made from 100% nero di Troia, with very typical aromas of cherry, beetroot, sweet meat and resinous green herbs, and a large structure with nero di Troia’s typically big but soft tannins.

Casa Maschito, from Basilicata’s Monte Vulture area, were justly proud of their minerally range of mountain wines, the best one for me being the Aglianico del Vulture Porta Adduca 2011, which sported a huge hit of hydrocarbon minerality on top of aromas of fresh cherries and singed garrigue. Juicy, with Aglianico’s typically abundant but very fine tannins.

Sergio Arcuri, from Cirò in Calabria, makes tiny quantities of two highly personal, utter-no-compromise wines, a Cirò Rosso called Aris and a Cirò Rosato called Il Marinetto. Sergio goes his own way, so served the Aris 2011 first, then the Il Marinetto 2013. The Aris was a typically soft-fruited, complex, big-tannin gaglioppo with notes of plum, leather, sweet meat, orange peel and iris, while the rosé had a no-holds-barred, wild, salty-minerally sapidity overlaid by lovely aromas of wild raspberries. Fascinating wines, highly characterful and personal. Methods here approach “natural” winemaking.

Cote di Franze, also from Cirò, particularly excelled with the Rosso Classico Superiore 2011, wrapping a good dose of gaglioppo’s large tannins in a layer of big, firm plum fruit with sweet spice and floral highlights.

Mount Vesuvius standout producer, Sorrentino, had brought his lovely range of firm, sapid, volcanic wines. I was particularly enthused with the coda di volpe 2010 called Nati, with deep, waxy fruit with sulphurous, nutty highlights and great firmness, acidity and mountain-brook minerality, and the piedirosso Frupa 2011, a juicy, sapid, fresh wine with a drop-dead charming, live plum fruitiness and a light rasp of tannin to lend some real drinking interest.

Raffaele Guastaferro excelled, as usual, with his Taurasi Riserva Primum from vines of up to 150 years of age, this time with the 2007 vintage, which showed wild hydrocarbon minerality and thick/sweet garrigue over a core of sweet, massive cherry fruit. Searingly intense, with massive noble tannins and great length and complexity, this wine takes no prisoners. Don’t underestimate, however, Raffaele’s other wines, with both the “normal” Taurasi Primum 2008 and the “base” aglianico Memini 2011 showing really well.

Beniamino d’Agostino of Botromagno was showing his new range of Poderi d’Agostino wines, all at a high level. I was taken with the the Greco Vigna La Selva 2013, with lovely aromas of waxy apple and resinous herbs, as well as the nero di Troia 2013 Serre al Trono, which had sweet berries, sweet garrigue, fresh minerality and a lovely, juicy mouth with soft tannins.

Di Meo, from the Irpinia area in Campania, showed a broad range of wines. Of particular note was a 2000 Fiano di Avellino named Erminia di Meo that will be released later this year. This was amazingly young, with typical aromas of waxy fruit, resinous green herbs and nuts, and a lovely, round but dry mouthfeel with good extract and excellent acidity.

New discoveries included:

Antica Masseria Jorche is a family business in the Manduria area of Puglia, newly on the market. Despite being in Primitivo heartland, one of the standout wines was a basic range negroamaro with lovely, typical plum, tobacco and graphite aromas and a rounded mouth full of berry fruit, spices and floral notes. The primitivo range dominates, of course, and I particularly liked the straight Primitivo di Manduria 2011, which had lovely prune juice, garrigue and sweet pipe tobacco aromas working around a dry, firm, softly fruity and minerally palate.

Antico Castello, from Irpinia, presented the full range of white and red wines from that viticulturally blessed area. A strong note of granite minerality runs through the entire range of really good wines, ending with a seriously impressive, powerful, complex, almost briary and highly typical Taurasi 2010 with great prospects for longevity.

From the Colli di Salerno area of Campania came Lunarossa with two white (falanghina and fiano) and one red (aglianico) wines. The Quartara Fiano 2011, which had been fermented for two months on its skins in amphorae, was particularly interesting, with a broad nose of sweet peach, light honey and a dry, slightly spicy element. The palate was dry, fresh and full with very light tannin and light-toned minerality. A highly drinkable, “gastronomic” wine, this was another favourite that we reverted to several times during our social evenings.

Cotinone, from the San Severo area of northern Puglia, showed an interesting sémillon and two reds made predominantly or only with nero di Troia. I liked the 100% nero di Troia from 2012 a lot. It had a delicious nose of cherries, singed garrigue and the lightest touch of humus, with a fresh, mild palate with live tannins and lightly balsamic cherries on a long aftertaste.

The evening was dedicated to a fantastic tasting of Cantina del Notaio’s mid-range Aglianico del Vulture Il Repertorio. The owner, Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti, showed up with vintages 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 20006 and 2007, and with a presentation featuring single-year weather patterns and overall climatic and soil data for this unique – and cool! – mountain terroir. Aglianico here is picked, depending on the vintage, between the end of October and the beginning of December. The long hang time shows itself in ripe tannins and lovely balance between fruit and structure. Of the vintages tasted, the 2001 was clearly the greatest wine for me, featuring a fresh, deep, dark and complex nose with cherries, hydrocarbon minerality, perfume, leather, garrigue and sweet meat, and a palate of great power, freshness, balance and length, with the typical, slightly briary tannins of Monte Vulture. A great and still very young wine, seemingly with endless life ahead of it. 20003 was a wonderful surprise, the vintage being famously hot, but the wine being still fresh, fruity and young. It is significant that this was a tasting of the mid-range wines. Just think of the potential power, greatness and longevity of the top-of-the-range La Firma.

Another night featured many wines, a bit of beer if memory serves me right, great companionship and much humour. Wine gathers the best people.

Yours truly

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