This spring Pietro Mastroberardino organized a historic Taurasi vertical extending not quite to prehistory, but well into the mists of time. I was alas unable to attend, and was therefore forced to enjoy it vicariously, via Luciano Pignataro’s wonderful description of the wines.
Faced with the impossibility of tasting the older vintages, I did the next best thing, and visited the Mastroberardino stand at Vinitaly. It was my last stop of the day, and quite enjoyable.
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Aminea Gemina 2012
Brassy greenish gold with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is elegant, with delicate floral accents mingled with honeysuckle and slight gooseberry supported by delicate sweetness. Pleasant to sniff and quite welcoming. On the palate it’s fresh and mineral with some white blossoms as well; the honeysuckle on the nose is apparent on the palate too, coupled with gun flint minerality and some flinty granite-struck notes that flow into a decidedly flinty finish. Quite pleasant in a fresh lively key, a wine that will work well with robust foods, with the power one expects of a Greco, and also has nice aging capacity for a vino base.
Mastroberardino Nova Serra Greco di Tufo 2012
This is from vineyards on Monte Fusco, deep clayey soils with volcanic ash. It’s lively brassy yellow with greenish brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is elegant, more mineral and less floral than the Aminea, with some heather and honeysuckle as well, and slight greenish vegetal accents. On the palate it’s elegant, with rich osur tropical fruit – pineapple, with the tannic pepperiness one finds in pineapple eyes – supported by fairly bright pineapple acidity, and some flinty bitterness with peppery tannins from grape that flow into a fairly long peppery finish with flinty slightly pineapple accents. Deft and zesty, with considerable backbone and power, a wine that will work well with flavorful fish or white meats, and also creamy foods. Nice aging capacity too.
An older wine:
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Aminea Gemina 2007
Brassy pale green with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is deft, with some floral accents mingling with minerality and some bitter pear, and also hints of caciocavallo cheese that contribute but don’t disturb. Interesting and much alive, and there are some savory notes as well. On the palate it’s fairly bright, quite mineral, and rather languid, with lemony fruit supported by citric acidity that directs without biting – quite well – and flows into a long lemony finish with some greenish accents. It has given up its youthful exuberance for a more relaxed feel, displaying grace and pleasing elegance.
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2012
Pale brassy green with greenish brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is pleasant, with delicate floral accents, in particular honeysuckle, mingled with hints of honeydew melon and slight sweetness. Inviting. On the palate it’s ample, fairly bright, and quite mineral with some interwoven honeydew melon that gives way to minerality in the finish, which is fairly long, with some bitter hazelnut accents. A classic Fiano that revolves more around aromatics and finesse than structure, and will be quite nice as an aperitif or with delicate fish, and will also nicely complement either cheese or Oriental dishes. If you prefer power you will find the Greco more to your liking, and if you prefer finesse perhaps the Fiano, which combines harmony and balance.
Mastroberardino Radici Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2012
This is from a vineyard at Santo Stefano del Sale, at an elevation of 600 meters; the soils are deep, loosely packed (which makes fall rains less of a problem), and have a moderate clay content, while the thermal excursions are quite intense, 15 C in September. The grapes ripen slowly, and are harvested two weeks later than most Fiano. Brilliant brassy green with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is powerful and elegant, with floral notes mingled with some bitter almond, some vegetal accents, and slight sweetness. On the palate it’s rich, with honeydew melon fruit on the attack supported by mineral acidity that has some honeydew melon coolness and slight bitter lemony warmth that gives way to almond blossom bitterness as well, and continues into a bitter hazelnut mineral finish. Quite elegant, with a great dela of finesse, and also has nice aging potential.
Another older wine:
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2006
Brilliant pale green with brassy greenish reflections and white rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich bitter accents and hints of hazelnut, and also some butterscotch that’s more from age than oak. A lot going on in a harmonious, fairly intense key. On the palate it’s languid, with hazelnut laced minerality and mineral acidity that flow into a hazelnut laced finish, and though it’s quick to write it is also pleasant and harmonious, and will bring joy to the table
Mastroberardino Morabianca Irpinia Falanghina DOC 2012
From a vineyard with sandy superficial soils, and underlying clay. Pale brassy white with greenish reflections and white rim. The bouquet is delicate, with floral accents, honeysuckle, and some hints of menthol coupled with some pleasant sweetness. Quite inviting. On the palate it’s full, with bright loquat-tangerine fruit supported by green apricot acidity and some peppery notes, and by grape tannins that are delicately flinty and lead into a clean bright slightly flinty finish. Quite approachable and a versatile food wine that will go very fast.
Mastroberardino Falanghina del Sannio DOC 2012
This is from a lower area, 180-200 meters above sea level, where the temperature excursions are lower, and the grapes ripen sooner than they do in Irpinia. In short, it’s more of a quaffing wine. Brassy green with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some floral accents, slight bitter almond, and some minerality. Less intense than the Irpinian wine. On the palate it’s fairly direct, with minerality and some loquat fruit supported by sour loquat acidity and by grape tannins that have a flinty greenish burr and flow into a rather flinty finish. An up front wine that will drink well with foods, supporting without hogging the limelight.
Mastroberardino Aglianico Campania IGT 2011
Cherry ruby with cherry rim; not too dark. The bouquet is elegant, with cherry fruit supported by balsamic notes and warmth, and by peppery spice and some greenish almost cedary accents. Quite young, but already pleasant. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with moderate berry fruit supported by balsamic notes and peppery spice with a fair amount of underbrush that carries into a peppery underbrush laced finish. Quite up front and direct, a wine that will work well with foods without hogging the limelight, and will go quickly.
Mastroberardino Re di More Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2011
This is a cru from an Aglianico clone they have identified, and will be called Antonio Mastroberardino when the registration process is completed. The goal is a wine with more color and less astringency in the tannins. It’s a deeper ruby than the Aglianico base, with ruby reflections and pale ruby rim. The bouquet is pleasant, with ripe almost jammy black berry fruit supported by cedar and some balsamic notes, dappled shade, some graphite shavings, and hints of menthol. A lot going on. On the palate it’s ample, with rich fruit – cherry with som bitter accents – supported by greenish berry fruit acidity and tannins that are quite smooth, flowing into a clean slightly dusty berry fruit finish. The tannins are considerably smoother and rounder than those of many Aglianici, and this makes the wine much more approachable in a youthful key than the basic Aglianico was, and for the average consumer this is a Good Thing. If you instead prefer wines with more of Aglianico’s traditional tannic bite you will find it approachable but a bit simple.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Etichetta Nera DOCG 2008
This is a blend of Aglianico from Mirabella and Monte Marano; the characteristics of the grapes from the two areas complement each other, with Monte Marano ripening more slowly and enjoying significant temperature excursions, with a later harvest, in November, whereas the grapes from Mirabella enjoy greater warmth and ripen sooner. Elegant garnet with black reflections and garnet in the rim. The bouquet is deft, with berry fruit laced with balsamic notes and warmth mingled with some goudron and pleasant cedar. On the palate it’s full, with rich cherry fruit supported by mineral acidity and warmth, and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight greenish burr and flow into a long fruit laced tannic finish with some graphite shavings. Very young, but one could already drink it; those with patience will be richly rewarded, however, and as I tasted it I couldn’t help but think that while the new Aglianico clone may make the wine more approachable in youth, this is what it’s all about.
Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi Riserva DOCG 2006
This is from an extremely old vineyard in Mirabella, and the wine spent an additional year in bottle. Deep garnet ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with balsam-laced red berry fruit supported by cedar-laced spice and warmth, some underbrush, and hints of cracked coffee beans. Great finesse, more than that of the Radici Black Label On the palate it’s ample and smooth with rich balsam-laced cherry fruit supported by warm savory berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a clean balsam-laced cedary burr that flows into a clean herbaceous finish. Beautiful finesse and elegance, and a wine that will age well for years and years. In a word, impressive.
Mastroberardino Historia Irpinia IGT 2000
Until 2001 they made this wine from Aglianico and Pedirosso. Now it’s Aglianico from a 40-year old Aglianico vineyard in Mirabella that invariably yields distinctive grapes and thus a distinctive wine. Deep black garnet with black reflections and garnet rim. The bouquet is elegant, with balsam-laced berry fruit supported by slight candied notes and hints of menthol; there’s a lot going on and it’s quite pleasant to sniff, with terrific harmony and elegance. On the palate it’s impressive, with rich slightly sour cherry fruit supported by deft mineral acidity and by tannins that have the classic balsamic Aglianico accents that come with age, and flow into a long underbrush-laced balsamic tannic finish. An impressive wine to enjoy with fine foods, and with friends of like mind. I hated to pour it out.
Mastroberardino Anthères Irpinia Aglianico Passito DOC 2010
The grapes for this wine are allowed to overripen and dry on the vines, and in doing so gain noble rot. As such it’s one of the few reds in which botrytis is welcomed. Garnet with brownish black reflections and garnet in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with sweet candied sour cherry fruit mingled with nutmeg and noble rot, which contributes considerably to the nose, and bright strawberry acidity with a pleasing spicy cast, and some brown sugar sweetness as well. Intriguing. On the palate it’s full and sweet, with delicate red berry fruit that’s more vegetal than one would expect supported by pleasant almost savory strawberry acidity that carries it beautifully, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long sweet finish that echoes the palate. Most impressive, and if you like this sort of wine – the glycerin drawn by the Noble Rot makes it enveloping to a delightful degree – yo will enjoy it immensely. It’s one of the finest passiti it has been my pleasure to taste, and was the perfect wine with which to finish a day of tasting.