An Italian Legend

Today’s Story: Mastroberardino

Mastroberardino is a family-operated winery founded in 1878 in Atripalda within the Provincia di Avellino in the Campania region of southern Italy. While widely known for their production of Taurasi DOCG, Mastroberardino further cemented themselves into Italian viticultural history through tireless efforts to identify and protect native ancient varieties in Campania, particularly those formerly grown in Pompeii. For instance, Mastroberardino was selected by the Italian government in 1996 to oversee the Villa dei Misteri project in Pompeii where they replanted vineyards destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 using the same plans, varieties, viticulture, and winemaking practices of that period in time. Though the winery has had its ups and downs over time (including near collapse following WWII due to economic hardship, phylloxera, neglect, and even family feuds), Antonio Mastroberardino resurrected his family’s legacy and helped build the winery into what it is today: a standard bearer of winemaking in southern Italy. Traditionalists in style, Mastroberardino continues to make some of Italy’s most historically important wines with Antonio’s son Piero now at the helm.

The wine I am reviewing today received countless critical acclaim, and is largely considered the wine that brought significant attention to winemaking in the Campania region and the immense potential of the Aglianico variety.

Today’s Wine: 1968 Taurasi Riserva

100% Aglianico; 12% ABV

The 1968 Taurasi Riserva is almost entirely opaque and is deep ruby in color with garnet variation, especially near the rim. This is shockingly youthful right out of the bottle and we let it decant for about an hour before enjoying over the next hour-plus. The nose showcases aromas of black cherry, black plum, forest floor, tobacco leaf, black truffle, smoked game, white pepper, black tea, underbrush, oregano, and dried rose. Once in the mouth, this beautiful wine displays notes of dried blackberry, black cherry, cigar box, forest floor, mushroom, leather, tar, ash, smoke, peppercorn, and green herbs. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, refined medium tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $850 (though this came into our possession years ago for a much lower cost). This is truly a unicorn wine that I will surely never taste again, and a bottle we were very lucky to receive with the purchase of a private wine collection. Pair this with braised beef, venison, wild boar, or grilled lamb.

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