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|Italian History in a Glass|
The Amazing Campanian Whites and Reds from Terradora di Paolo
We just tasted through the new vintages of Terradorra di Paolo (a best seller last year at The Wine Club S.J.,) and they blew us away! We couldn't wait to share them, and a little of the remarkable history of these incredible Campanian varietals. These are fantastic wines!
In 1994 when the reknown Mastrobernadino estate split-up, Paolo Mastrobernadino gained possession the families vineyards starting Terradora di Paolo, and his brother Antonio retained the family name and winery. The Mastrobernadino family is credited with saving several ancient varietals that were on the verge of extinction. Some of these varieties have been made into wine for perhaps as much as 4000 years, well into pre-history. They were being produced when Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. covering Pompeii, when Rome fell, and when the Byzantine Empire rose from Rome's ashes, and fell to the pressures of the Ottomans to the east and internal decay.
The wines of Campania have become almost overnight superstars here in Northern California over the past few years, with the success of restaurants like A-16 in San Francisco that have brought considerable intrest to all things Campana. For the past two years, every wine Terradora has made received at least 90 points from The Wine Advocate.
Except for last wine (the 2004 Pago dei Fusi,) there are no reviews yet.
Buyer, Manager, San Jose
2010 Terradora Falanghina, DOC Irpina (White) $11.99
Falanghina is an ancient varietal that came to Southern Italy by Greek settlers of the Campi Flegrei region north of Naples as early as the 7th century B.C. The wine is both crisp and rich, with fresh, ripe green apples and floral notes, with an almost tropical bent. Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate has given 90 points to both 2008 and 2009 vintages. This will do generate the same kind of accolades: it's fruit is so expessive, long and vivacious. Perfect for summer! D.A.
2010 Terradora Greco di Tufo DOCG, Irpina (White) $16.99
First written references of Greco come from the city of Pompei in the sixth century BC. On a wall in the destroyed city are the words: "You are cold, Bice, truly a piece of ice, if even the Greco wine could not warm your heart last night."
Greco is found in various forms across Italy, making beautiful, structured, stony and mineral laden wines. As a region (a DOCG since 2003,) "Greco di Tufo"volcanic tufa soils produce the largest quanties of wine in Compania, despite being a third of the size of Fiano di Avellino DOCG.
Terradora di Paolo's Greco is redolent of pear, white peaches, flowers, stones and hints of basil.
In the mouth it's much more stoney inflected, but the fruit is round and generous, and the palate is rich, juicy and soft. This is very unlike a Chablis' minerality which is borne of acidity. Here the minerality aspects come from the flavor of the wine itself. Brilliant stuff! The last vintage got 91 points from Galloni, and this one is just as good, if not better. D.A.
2010 Terradora, Fiano di Avellino DOCG Irpina (White) $17.99
While having less of the sweet fruit of Falanghina, and not mineral laden like Greco, Fiano is none-the-less a distinctive white that deserves your attention. It too is indiginous to Campania with at least a two thousand year history in the area. Fiano is more melon and green pear and soft lemon, with elements of earth and volcanic ash with a moderate long finish. D.A.
Again the 2009 got 90 from Galloni, though the 2008 was not reviewed.
2009 Terradora, Aglianico, Irpina $11.99 (Red Wine)
Aglianico is the regal red grape of Southern Italy; often being called the Barolo of the South for it's lighter body, aromatics, complexity and firming tannins. Think exotic aromas of tuberose (that peppery extremely floral scented flower) crossed with red Burgundy or Barolo, and you have Aglianico. This black-skinned grape too made it's way to Southern Italy from Greece. Aglianico was the basis of Falernia, the coveted wine discribed by the Roman scholar Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder.) As fate would have it, Pliny the Elder died on a ship off of Pompeii in the aftermath of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius on August 25, 79AD.
The tremendous vintage of 2009 is showing it's hand again with this outstanding Aglianico. The perfect example of it's type, this smells like a fresh cut tuberose flower. The wine is bright with raspberry and black cherry fruit, pepper and those ever present Aglianico tannins. For the winemaker, controlling tannins is the key to success, and Terradora does this beautifully. They are not at all overly tannic. Up to 50% of this Aglianico sees new oak for up to 3 months, to "rinse" the barrels before using the barrels to age the Taurasi. D.A.
2005 Terradora, Taurasi di Avellino DOCG Aglianico (Red) $36.99
If Aglianico is the King of Southern Italian Red Wines, Taurasi is it's kingdom. Taurasi can only be made in Avellino, (ancient Samnite Hirpini before the Roman conquest, now referred to as Irpini.) Terradora's Taurasi is dark fruited with fine texture and firm tannins with aromatic rose pedal, licorice, and insistant black raspberry fruit. Despite all the new wood, it doesn't show it and, it is not overly tannic. This is absolutely beautiful Aglianico! Bravo!
The 2004 got 94 points. This is going to score highly as well. D.A.
2004 Terradora Taurasi "Pago dei Fusi" DOCG Aglianico (Red) $52.99
95+ points Antonio Galloni The Wine Advocate
The 2004 Taurasi Pago dei Fusi is a single-vineyard... "shows a touch more depth and inner sweetness than the regular bottling, but without abandoning what is essentially a class ic style. Dark cherries, plums, tobacc0, licorice and incense are woven together in a fabric of superb richness. The finish is long, precise and exceptionally pure, with crystalline, mineral notes that add freshness. This site, which was once under water, is rich in marine deposits that confer a beautiful sense of vibrancy to the wine. The integration of the oak is superb. Readers will not want to miss this gem! Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029.
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Dean's Blog Posts:
August 24, 2011: Blind Pinot Tasting