Wine lovers unfamiliar with aglianico will want to try more after tasting the 2005 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico.
In 1986, the Capaldo and Ercolino families founded Feudi di San Gregorio in Sorbo Serpico, a tiny village in Italy’s Campania region. Until then, most producers in Campania and the rest of southern Italy directed their efforts to the bulk wine category, and aglianico was an important source for red wines.
But by the mid-1990s, Feudi di San Gregorio showed the wine world that Aglianico was capable of making wines as elegant and pleasing as Italy’s most respected- Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, and amarone.
Aglianico has a substantial amount of tannin and acidity and explosive black fruit and herbal aromas and flavors. It requires ripeness to avoid tasting aggressively tannic or astringent, and at least five years of bottle aging to integrate its components. Once aged and balanced, Aglianico can produce wines with the richness of California’s zinfandel and the fullness of Rhone and New World syrah, and it has great cellaring potential. The winemaker’s challenge is taming the tannins and controlling the acidity.
The 2005 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico is 100 percent aglianico grown in volcanic soil formed from eruptions of nearby Mount Vesuvius. Although southern Italy is one of the hottest areas in Europe, San Gregorio’s vineyards are in a cooler microclimate allowing the grapes to ripen gradually into late October and early November.
Winemaker Luigi Moio used stainless steel and new French oak barrels for fermentation and 18 months aging of the 2005 Serpico. The result is a wine bursting with blackberry, black olive, spice and dark chocolate aromas. The palate is treated to rich black fruit flavors and a full-bodied texture with a modest 13.5 percent alcohol. Without Aglianico’s tannin and acidity the 2005 Serpico would be overwhelming yet boring. With it, the wine is unique and compelling in a world redundant with formula-made merlots, cabernet sauvignons and syrahs bearing palate-numbing 15 to 16 percent alcohol levels.
In its short history, Feudi di San Gregorio has risen to the top echelon of Italian wines by the passionate dedication of the Capaldo-Ercolino families. In 2006, the Capaldo family assumed sole ownership and Antonio Capaldo, 34, is the managing director. Armed with a doctorate in international finance and a resume stamped at the prestigious investment house Lazard and consulting firm McKinsey, Capaldo is driving Feudi di San Gregorio’s quality to new heights.
Try a glass of the 2005 Feudi di San Gregorio with a rack of lamb, grilled T-bone steak, or braised short-ribs and mushroom polenta and grilled eggplant. You’ll become an aglianico aficionado.
The 2005 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico retails for about $70.