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Mastroberardino, Taurasi Riserva “Radici”Campania, Italy 2014 (750mL)

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Mastroberardino, Taurasi Riserva “Radici” Campania, Italy 2014 (750mL)

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Aglianico, especially as grown in the Taurasi region of Campania, is one of Italy’s most important native grapes—a “noble” variety on par with Nebbiolo (Barolo) and Sangiovese (Brunello; Chianti). But many of you already knew that. And if I had to guess, the wine that first brought you on Team Aglianico was the “Radici” Taurasi from the region’s most iconic estate, Mastroberardino. Radici is one of Southern Italy’s benchmark reds and one of the handful of wines from this part of the world found in the savviest collectors’ wine cellars. 


Even today, as southern Italy’s wines continue to grow in prestige and Taurasi—long nicknamed “the Barolo of the south”—is recognized as an important terroir, it remains under-explored and (mostly) overlooked by the “fine wine” market. But as today’s ’14 proves unequivocally, to ignore this place and grape is to miss out on one of the most powerful and distinctive red wine experiences out there. Beyond that, I defy you to find another cellar-worthy red wine offering this much power, character, and dimension at a sub-$50 price. Between this wine and some of the magnificent Barbarescos and Barolos we’ve unearthed at this price point, Italy has all but cornered the market on value at the elite level. Grab a few bottles of this benchmark red before it disappears.



First produced in 1986, “Radici” (“roots”) is Taurasi’s most famous label, while Mastroberardino is the region’s “first family”—for a long time one of the few “estate-owned” wineries in the area. Their winemaking operation was first established in the 1750s, and the family remained the dominant force in Campanian wine for generations; these days, there are scores of ambitious Taurasis to compete with Radici, but for a long time, it was one of very few wines from the zone attracting international attention. Some years ago, I remember a tranche of the mythical 1968 Taurasi from Mastroberardino making its way through restaurants and the auction market; it was easily among the top 10 greatest Italian wines I’ve ever tasted, and it was such a sensation I’d be surprised if there was any still in existence.


Taurasi, for those less familiar, is the namesake village of a relatively small cluster of hills in the Irpinia region of central Campania—about 50 kilometers east of Naples but, physically speaking, a world away. Irpinia is the start of the climb into the Campanian Apennines, with vineyard altitudes typically averaging around 400 meters in densely forested hillside sites (chestnut groves are another key feature of the region). The soils are a mix of calcareous (i.e. limestone) marl and volcanic deposits, and it’s the latter that the great Aglianico-based reds of the south really speak to: There’s a brooding, smoky, deeply mineral structure to Aglianico that can be downright ferocious, more forbidding in some cases than young Barolo wines from Piedmont. There’s no doubt in my mind that Aglianico, whose origins remain unclear—some believe it arrived from Greece, others think it’s indigenous to the region—is one of Italy’s top three “noble” varieties alongside Nebbiolo (Piedmont) and Sangiovese (Tuscany). 


As in Barolo, Taurasi is subject to minimum aging requirements by law. “Radici” is classified as a riserva and exceeds those requirements significantly, spending 30 months in a mixture of French oak barrels (20% new) and larger casks, then three years in bottle before release. Sourced from a high-elevation single vineyard (not named on the bottle), today’s wine shares similarities not just with Barolo but certain Gran Reserva Riojas as well. Effectively the “current” release of Radici Riserva, today’s 2014 has had time to knit together somewhat, but it is still youthful, brawny, and poised for a long life ahead. In the glass, it has a characteristically dark, inky hue with hints of garnet and orange at the rim, with smoky, mineral aromas highly evocative of volcanic soils. Scents of ripe blackberries, currants, and mulberries mingle with intensely savory notes of espresso, grilled meat, leather, pencil lead, and tobacco. It is full-bodied and dense on the palate, with firm tannins and lots of freshness lending grip. Given an hour-plus in a decanter, it delivers a lot of heady pleasure, but this is a wine that will show its best with food—it’s not a flashy, sweet, “cocktail” style of red but rather a brooding, soil-driven wine that will continue to evolve in a positive direction over the next 10-15 years at a minimum. If enjoying a bottle now, treat it to that long aeration time and serve it at 60-65 degrees in large Bordeaux stems. Serve it with a fatty cut of meat well-charred on the grill and you’ll have a delicious symbiosis of flavors and textures on your hands. Enjoy!




Mastroberardino, Taurasi Riserva “Radici” Campania, Italy 2014 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionCampania
  • Sub-RegionTaurasi DOCG
  • SoilClay, Limestone, Volcanic
  • BlendAglianico
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakMixed (20% New)
  • Service Temp.60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkNow-2034
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingBBQ Brisket

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionCampania
  • Sub-RegionTaurasi DOCG
  • SoilClay, Limestone, Volcanic
  • BlendAglianico
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakMixed (20% New)
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2034
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingBBQ Brisket