Salvatore Mollatieri Vigna Cinque Querce Taurasi 2006
The south of Italy is hot and arid with poor regions that saw a lot of emigration throughout the twentieth century. The wines have rarely been associated with quality, simple and fruity for local consumption. If they made it out of the south, it was for underhand blending to add colour and body to the more prestigious wines of the north.
Thankfully, a lot has changed in the last twenty years or so. There’s been investment into the south, which has raised and modernised the standard of winemaking. And there’s also been greater focus on indigenous grape varieties which produce distinctive, high-quality wines.
One of these is Aglianico, which I rank the equal of Nebbiolo. It has a similar structure, with high tannins, acidity, and alcohol, but with more fruit and body. At the earliest, the wines should only be drunk after seven years, and can last decades.
The most famous area for Aglianico is Taurasi in Campania, where volcanic hillsides dominate (it’s not far from Pompeii). In the warm climate of southern Italy, Aglianico exceeds on difficult, volcanic soils and at heights of 400m+. Minimum ageing is three years in oak (four years for Riserva), although the grape’s naturally high tannins and the price of new oak mean that the oak is usually old.
Salvatore Mollatieri comes from a family with a winemaking history. He established his winery in 1983, and now his four sons are all involved. White wine is also made, from the local, quality white varieties Fiano and Greco. This Aglianico comes from his best vineyard, Cinque Querce, which is 500-550m high.
This is the ideal time to be drinking this Aglianico from 2006: the tannins are firm but not too aggressive, the acidity balances those tannins, and there are ripe red fruits, as well as mature, earthy aromas. A balanced, complex, textured wine that I’d still decant for a couple of hours. This isn't an easy wine, but a serious one that demands and deserves contemplation.
Grape Variety: 100% Aglianico
Region: Taurasi, Italy
Ageing: 36 months in large Slavonian and French oak barrels
Food pairing: heavy, meaty pasta dishes; steak; game.