I sometimes think the most extreme wines, the ones that take great risks have the most potential if they manage to pull it all together. Intensities that are hard to corral are most impressive when they begin to harmonize, as if hard won harmony means more than the easy life. Aglianico, the main grape of Taurasi a region of volcanic soils in Campagnia of Southern Italy, has that sort of potential. But it must be judged on its own terms. It is a beast. There will be bitterness and scorching tannins, bold, confrontational fruit. But get that to all work together and you have a jem. This wine is on the way, still an adolescent but showing plenty of street smarts.
Impenetrable ink in the glass, enticing aromas of dense, brambly, blackberry and smoky tar against a cocoa background are brushed with rosemary highlights which glow amidst all that darkness.
In the mouth a layer of vibrant, juicy, dark fruit sits on top of massive tannins, wrapped in charcoal with emergent, oil-cured olive notes.
The wine is full bodied but doesn’t caress although it calms down considerably with lots of aeration, developing some silkiness and a finer grain over time. The palate soars impatiently because the tannins come in early, punching up a seam of minerality held aloft by well balanced acidity. As the tannins peak, sweet berry notes make a brief but captivating appearance. It is the interplay between dark, searing tannins and mineral-inflected juice as they fight for dominance that makes this interesting.
At the moment, apocalyptic, dark angst prevails over inchoate moments of beauty. This wine will figure out what it wants to be in 10 years. For now just enjoy the spectacle.
Massive Attack’s Anti Star brings out some juiciness and minerality.