"Mastroberardino is solely responsible for putting Taurasi on the wine map."

I was given a glass of Taurasi a few months back as a recommendation and was instantly captivated by the wine.  It was dark and exotic and it was something different.  A new discovery.  So I have been exploring the wines of Taurasi, which are made from the Aglianico grape.  Taurasi is from the Campania region, but Aglianico is grown throughout Southern Italy.  Aglianico is to Campania and Southern Italy what Nebiolo is to the Northern Italy and what Sangiovese is to Tuscany and Central Italy.  The one winery which is responsible for really putting Aglianico on the map is Mastroberardino.  Their Taurasi is considered the benchmark, though there are many other quality producers out there as well.  And beyond the area of Taurasi, there are great Aglianico’s being produced in Campania and elsewhere.  The Arke from Cantina Val di Neto in Calabria is a perfect example.  It is blended with some other really cool more obscure Southern Italian grape varieties.  There are some very interesting blends going on in Southern Italy utilizing lesser known grape varieties that can really deliver a very cool wine experience.

Mastroberardino Radici Riserva 1999, Taurasi

"This interesting blend of Aglianico, Gaglioppo, and Greco Nero was a recommendation from D.O.C. wine shop."

The color is deep dark crimson and the nose is very exotic with dark Mexican chocolate and cocoa mixing with deep red fruit, grilled sausage, and eastern spices.  In the mouth the wine is rich and round with notes of spicy smokiness lingering with a slight tartness.  There is a real depth here, and the nose is worth the price of admission.  100% Aglianico with thirty months in both French oak barriques and Slavonian oak barrels and at least eighteen months in bottle.  This one is a pricey bottle at about $65, but worth a try.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Cantina Val di Neto, Arke – 2005 IGT Calabria

Medium dark garnet with purple hues.  The nose is hard to pin down, but there are elements of liquorish, cherry cola syrup, black berries and raisins.  In the mouth the wine is concentrated, rich and round, but a touch syrupy.  On the finish there are lingering notes of herbs and plums.  55% Aglianico, 35% Gaglioppo, 10% Greco Nero.  Really interesting and different stuff.  Purchased at D.O.C. Wines Shop for around $35.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED