Tenuta del Portale “Starsa” 2003 (Basilicata IGT)
100% Aglianico. Clear but somewhat shadowy medium-dark ruby. Mixed red fruit and dark cherry aromas, with notes of tobacco, roast game, leather, caraway, and cinnamon. Light- to medium-bodied. Dark tea-like tannins jump in fast but not too furious, giving a big backbone to juicy raspberry and black plum flavors, along with black licorise, coffee, and black pepper accents. Tannins flash their teeth again but don’t bite on the finish. “Starsa” is the entry level wine for this producer, who also bottles a good Aglianico del Vulture and a riserva. A bargain at $10. 13% alcohol.
De Conciliis “Naima” 2000 (Paestum IGT)
100% Aglianico from the Cilento zone of southern Campania. This was on the bar at a party of nongeeks, with the likes of Columbia Crest, Castillero del Diablo, and Cuvee Mythique. Turns out the “Naima” was a gift from another guest (a teetotaler), whose organization gives the bottle to clients because the name matches the organization’s acronym. It rung a bell—I remembered that the wine was named for a song, but I couldn’t recall the artist (John Coltrane). I suggested to my host-friend that he might want to save it for another occasion. At which point both he and the teetotaler insisted I open it to see if I liked it. I sipped (quite happily) from a plastic tumbler printed with Jack-o-lanterns and scribbled some brief notes the next morning.
Velvety purple with ruby glints. Rich and ripe on the nose. Soft and quite lush with just enough acidity for balance. Modern, for sure, but not oaky. Luscious red fruit flavors with subtle, smoky hints of tar and cigar. Long and delicious, with sneaky round tannins tightening up the finish to remind me that this is, after all, Aglianico.
Jenise recently quoted a friend of hers saying this about Bordeaux: “It’s not about the fruit. It’s about everything else.” That well-phrased observation has really stuck with me, and it seems pretty appropriate for a lot of Aglianico (and Nebbiolo, for that matter). This wine, on the other hand, puts its fruit front and center, but thankfully not to the exclusion of "everything else." Modern, here at least, doesn't have to mean anonymous.
Okay, so let’s get on the Internet and see how much some more of this is going to cost me . . . . average looks to be $60. (Yikes!) Didn’t note the alcohol, but I see that the 2001 weighed in at 15.5%
FEAR THE TURTLE ! ! !