Rarely seen in "these parts," the Aglianico grape is one of Italy's oldest and most noble grape varieties. Unquestionably the top grape grown in Southern Italy, it is often compared to Nebbiolo due to its highly aromatic and structured personality. If you want to experience the grape in top form and at a great price, you've got to try this!
"Along with nebbiolo and sangiovese, it (aglianico) is generally believed to be one of Italy’s three best wine grapes, but in my opinion, it is far more: At the very least, it’s one of the world’s dozen or so best wine grapes", described by Ian d’Agata, the leading expert in Italian wine in his book "Native Wine Grapes of Italy".
Strong words by one our country's leading voices on Italian wines, and Starnalli's Santo Sano Aglianico is a great entry-point to the wonders of this variety. If you are a fan of traditionally-styled, Old World Reds, I HIGHLY urge you to try this.
2017 Masseria Starnalli 'Santo Sano' Aglianico Roccamonfina
Intensely spicy, earthy, and aromatic, this is traditional Italian red wine in peak form and at an incredible price. - 94+ points - Yours Truly
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Writing about wine is not always an easy task, and it's made even more challenging by a wine like this. Aglianico is a grape that many of you have never tried, and trying to describe such a sensory stimulating product with words does it only a modicum of justice. Keep reading, but my advice is to pick up a bottle of this stunning wine, and enjoy it while you are reading this. Brand new to the US and another stellar find from importer Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports are the wines from Masseria Starnalli, a small, certified organic and biodynamic estate based in the commune of Roccamonfina, in Italy's Campania region.
As Jay says, "Luigi Ferrara is making wine and harvesting chestnuts on the side of an ancient volcano." Sounds like fun, huh? Trust me, Luigi's entry-point Aglianico is more than fun, and it is a great introduction to one of Italy's most noble grapes. While Sangiovese and Nebbiolo often steal all the headlines, Aglianico quietly and stoically produces world-class wines that rarely approach the price points of Barolo and Brunello.
If you want to experience why Aglianico is so revered and respected, Starnalli's Santo Sano Aglianico is a great place to start. Possessing intense aromas and flavors of pepper, violet, pungent herb, leather, brown spice, cedar, bittersweet chocolate, and brambly berry, those savory nuances are "driving the bus" here. With time (15 minutes or so) and air, the fruit comes out to play in the form of fresh blackberry, currant, and dark plum. Quite structured, full-bodied, and full-favored, this oozes with classic Italian character and typicity.
Often compared to Nebbiolo for its propensity to age and improve, most of the aging has been done for us at the winery. Yep, Luigi likes to hold his wines back and release them when he feels they are drinking in top form. I thought about having a bottle open to try at the store, but a little splash in a tasting glass won't even come close to giving you the full experience. This wine takes you on a journey and is best enjoyed slowly at your house in a big glass. Sip it slowly, allowing the aromas and flavors to mellow and harmonize.
If you couldn't tell, I'll just say it....I LOVE THIS WINE! Let's not forget that all wines are made from fruit, and for one to offer so many "non-fruit flavors" is amazing to me, and this feat is even more impressive when you consider this doesn't see any oak aging. This is pure and natural winemaking at its finest, and if you love earthy, spicy, savory, and complex reds, do yourself a favor and pick some of this up.
I could go on and on, but I'll wrap it up. In closing, I will say that this is a wine that makes me swoon, and I can't wait to enjoy a bottle with beef stew, with grilled portobellos, or grilled lamb chops. I advise you to do the same. Give it time, drink it slowly, and let it grown on you.
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