Sometimes referred to as “The Barolo of the South”, Aglianico was called the third of “three great Italian grapes along with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo by Vinous’ Ian D’Agata. Last year, I gave you what is undoubtedly the absolute best baseline Aglianico made anywhere. But this year’s offer isn’t for the baby brother anymore– it’s for the big boy, the Irpinia IGT. Still Aglianico, still Cotarella, but a much bigger production in a more sacred area.
The Irpinia zone is a much higher elevation than its baby bro and with a different soil composition. The region was first made famous by Antonio Mastroberardino who discovered this was the perfect spot for indeginous varietals in Southern Italy with ideal vine-growing environment and consequent high-quality grapes. Thanks to a perfect combination of high altitude slopes, volcanic and lime/clay soils, long growing seasons and diurnal temperature variations, Mastroberardino discovered the winemaking mecca.
Last year’s Aglianico was one of a few from Cotarella that ended up on James Suckling’s “$15 wines that Taste like $50” list. But if that was a $15/wine that tastes like $50, today’s is a $20 wine that tastes like $100 bucks.
The 2018 Donnachiara Aglianico is a beauty. A more serious, complex Aglianico than the baseline, the Irpinia sees 6 months of oak, mainly new– giving it a deeper, more sophisticated feel. It’s the Irpinia bottling that has previously cracked Wine Spectator’s ‘Top 100 Wines of the Year’ and whose current vintage comes wrapped in a juicy 93-point score from James Suckling. Suckling called it “decadent, rich, layered and velvety” before capping his review with a “so delicious now”.
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93 Points, James Suckling
A red with blackberry, meat, black pepper, clove, blueberry and ash. Oyster shell, too. It’s full-bodied with lots of round tannins and a juicy, velvety finish. Decadent and rich. So delicious now. Layered. Soft and rich. Drink now.