Italy gets so much acclaim and deservedly so for its Brunellos, Barolos, and Super Tuscans, but there are so many other good wines and regions throughout this relatively small country. One of my favorites that I'm enjoying more and more these days is Aglianico, which is a very late ripening grape that is only grown effectively in the southernmost parts of Italy. The grape itself is Greek in origin - Aglianico is thought to be a corruption of the word Ellenico which is Italian for Hellenic. It is a very dark skinned grape that makes powerful wines that when grown properly also exhibit great finesse.
Perhaps the greatest expressions of the Aglianico grape come in the DOCG of Taurasi. Located east of Napoli in Campania, Taurasi was granted DOC status in 1970 and DOCG status in 1993. The Aglianico grapes for Taurasi wines are typically grown on the hillsides of the region in volcanic soils at elevation of 1300 feet or higher. The wines ripen so late in the region that they are sometime picked in the snow, and the combination of high summer temperatures, cool nights, and long growing season makes for wines that are bold and powerful but with great acidity, finesse, and aging potential.
The Vinosia Taurasi 2005 is very dark purple in your glass. The nose brings a wild assortment of earthy aromas. I get some cedar, cola, and fresh earth along with caramel and blackberry in the bouquet, and there is probably more there that I'm missing, which is part of what makes this wine so interesting. On the palate, the fruit is a slightly sour blackberry. This is not the sweet blackberry jam that comes through on so many wines. This is the taste of imperfect fresh blackberries that are OK but not overly sweet. I don't love this on my fresh blackberries, but it is absolutely fantastic in this wine. This Taurasi, like most that are done well, also has great acidity. This acidity makes for a subtle but long finish and I believe this gives it the potential to age for many more years. At a price of $23, this is a relative steal compared to most Taurasis of this quality.
I had this with a venison ragout over homemade pappardelle, and it was absolutely perfect. This is a powerful but food friendly wine that will pair beautifully with just about any red meats.