I had the pleasure to taste some wonderful wines made by one of the most appreciated wineries from the South of Italy, Mastroberardino, located in Irpinia, the historical area in the province of Avellino, near Naples. The tasting was organized here in Friuli Venezia Giulia by the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS Fvg). It was away back in 1878 when Angelo Mastroberardino registered the company in the Register of Enterprises and started to export his wines worldwide. The family may indeed be considered "pioneer" of the Italian wine export, having intercepted a cultural request by Italian emigrants, who were asking homeland products, especially wine to be matched with food. The Mastroberardinos have always been faithful to the territory and its traditional grape varieties, showing their resistance to the "fashion" of more international wines. Indeed, the Irpinia territory is home of three of the four DOCG of the South of Italy (the forth DOCG is in Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria), that is Grego di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Taurasi, all made with native and very ancient grape varieties (coming from Greece), Greco, Fiano and Aglianico. The wines presented at the tasting were the white Fiano di Avellino Docg, vintages 2010, 2006 and 2002 and the red Radici Taurasi Docg 2006, and Docg Riserva 2003, 1999, 1998 and 1997. I call these wines "Highlanders" for their big aging potential. I was not so lucky, however, to taste the true Mastroberardino "Highlanders": the winery organized in 2010 a vertical tasting with Roberto Galloni (the Italian collaborator of Robert Parker) in New York, starting with a 2006 Taurasi heading back to the vintage 1928, which, gaining 95 points, was described by Galloni "a nearly immortal wine of monumental standing". The winery has created the line "Vintage" for the white wines, old vintages to be sold with new releases, in order to give the consumer the opportunity to appreciate the complexity and expressive potential of these wines even after many years from the harvest. Here are my tasting notes.
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino Radici Docg 2010
The color is straw yellow with young green reflections. The nose is fresh with notes of citrus fruits, like lime and citron, and sweeter fruits like banana, melon and tropical fruits. There are also notes of aromatic herbs, like fresh rosemary and oregano and salty feelings. The taste is fresh, smooth, wide, with a long mineral finish.
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino Vintage Docg 2006
The color is now gold bright yellow. The nose is evolved in notes of dry fruits, dry banana, mango and pineapple, ripe golden apple, dry herbs and more marked salty sensations. The sip is long, smooth, creamy, with a better balance and a very pleasant minerality.
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino Vintage Doc 2002
Gold bright yellow color. The aromas on the nose are now of jam, dry fruits and herbs, sweet scents of pastry shop, honey, date, candied fruits and raisins, together with spices like ginger and saffron. The taste is smoother, full-bodied, with a long and mineral finish.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Docg 2006 ( 100% Aglianico)
Light ruby red color. The nose is fresh, with balsamic notes of dark licorice and mint, dark fruits, especially plum, tobacco and a hint of dark spices. The taste is warm (alcoholic), fresh, pretty smooth, with a prevalence of harsh parts, young tannin in particular.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva Docg 2003 ( 100% Aglianico)
The color is red with a ruby heart and a garnet rim. Complex and intense on the nose, with notes of jam, macerated fruits, dry plum, sweet spices like cinnamon and star anise, hints of tobacco and licorice root. Again a warm sip, with a smoother tannin. More balanced that 2006, very elegant, with a long mineral finish.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva Docg 1999 ( 100% Aglianico)
The heart and rim are now garnet-red. The nose is evolved in more intense spices, jam, fury, leather, "stable", green sensations and humus. Warm, dry, smooth taste with a pleasant powerful tannin. Long life ahead.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva Docg 1998 ( 100% Aglianico)
More intense garnet-red in color. A very complex nose, with toasted notes of coffee, cocoa, nuts, hints of cherries in alcohol and dark chocolate (Ferrero "Mon chéri"), spices, licorice toffee, dry aromatic herbs and musk. Wide sip with vivid smooth tannins, warm, mineral. A very long finish.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva Docg 1997 ( 100% Aglianico)
A very deep garnet-red heart. The nose gains more complexity and intensity, with wilder notes of animal, blood, red soil, humus and underwood. Again spices and toasted hints of coffee, walnut, cocoa and dark sensations of licorice and Indian ink. Still elegant with notes of dry flowers, especially violet. The taste is dry, warm., full-bodied with powerful evolved tannins. A pleasant long mineral finish. Long life ahead.