Oenologists often remark that while terroir is responsible for a wine’s unique character, its personality flows from the vintage. The team at Mastroberardino are experts at managing both. Founded in the 18th century by Pietro di Mastro Berardino, the winery is situated in the pretty town of Atripalda in Campania and is still family-owned and -run.
The jewel in the estate’s crown is a collection of vineyards in the volcanic hills of the Taurasi DOCG zone. Here, the Aglianico grape produces wines of incredible concentration and poise – many have described Taurasi as the ‘Barolo of the south’.
Mastroberardino’s role, in part, is to unlock the secrets of their diverse soils: a combination of mineral-rich tuff (a type of rock made out of solidified volcanic ash) and clay- limestone. However, understanding terroir is only one part of the equation: Mastroberardino places the highest importance on vintage expression. This difficult balancing act requires both a creative interpretation of the growing season, while simultaneously ensuring the continuity of Taurasi’s signature wine style.
The release of three Taurasi labels from the 2016 vintage makes the point admirably. A challenging year witnessed a mild spring with sudden drops in temperature affecting the vine budding, in addition to periods of heat repeatedly interrupted by abundant rainfall in the summer. Yet the Taurasi made in this vintage is outstanding and Mastroberardino offers wine lovers three stylistic interpretations of the Aglianico grape in the territory of Irpinia. The winemaker describes these exceptional reds as ‘brothers characterised by all the different nuances and interpretations of the 2016 vintage.’ Above all, they are deeply emblematic of the trust invested in the winegrower, who is tasked with making vital – and difficult – choices in a mercurial climate.
Radici Taurasi DOCG Riserva 2016
Exceptional terroir and a long maceration on the skins (25 days) yields a wine of immense structure and depth, with beautiful aromas of blackberry, leather, earth, and white pepper. The finish is long and complex.
Naturalis Historia Taurasi DOCG 2016 Riserva
A single-site expression of Aglianico that harnesses the potential locked inside 50-year-old vines, cultivated on a mixture of volcanic loam and clay-limestone terroir. Its bouquet of tobacco, dried figs, mocha and damson is highly seductive.
Stilèma Taurasi 2016 DOCG Riserva
According to the winemaker, ‘the Stilèma Riserva is a revolutionary Taurasi, celebrated for its stylistic cleanliness and uniqueness of approach.’ A relatively short maceration (only 7-8 days) delivers a red of impeccable freshness, balance and finesse. ‘Because a great wine is never a big wine.’
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