The (Extreme) Barolo of the South
Twice the Wine at Half the Price?
If the wines of southern Italy have never quite enjoyed the so-called "polish" or "sophistication" of the north, when the force of these muscular wines is tamed, they are show stoppers - riveting bottles that flash powerful ripe fruit on tensile, sinewy frames.
It should also be said that the best wines of the south happen to be ridiculous values. since the producers don't have the aristocratic legacy that many of northerners benefit from. (and dare we save even sometimes use as a crutch)
Often, producers in the south have to make twice the wine at half the price to get any attention at all.
At as low as $19.50/btl the 2005 Macarico Aglianico del Vulture is the poster child of this under-promise and over-deliver work ethic.
Today's wine at today's meager price is simply inexplicable given its obvious quality and pedigree.
If there is a grape that embodies the potential, the soaring heights the south is capable of, it is Aglianico. In its best form, Aglianico truly is the "Barolo of the South," a wine that has the potential to combine the compactness and power of Nebbiolo with a bright acidity, firework-aromatics and stern tannins that give the wine cut and delineation.
The 2005 Macarico is the most compelling example we've come across in a long time, regardless of price. (Yes, at $40 or higher you find ripped Aglianicos with more depth and complexity, but nothing comes close even in the $30 range.)
Rino Botte, who runs Macarico along with two other partners, is firmly committed to the region: its food, wine and heritage. Having grown up in a winemaking family in Basilicata, the first mark he left on his native region was owning its only Michelin-starred restaurant, La Locanda del Palazzo, where is wife (also born in the region) cooks.
However, it was making world class wine from Vulture that has fascinated him for the past twenty years and so when in 2001 he was finally able to establish this small 5-hectare estate, needless to say he chose his vineyards well and was ready to go in the cellar. He has not missed a step since.
Unsurprisingly, given Botte's restaurant background, the Macarico Aglianico really struts its stuff on the table. On our urging, Spirits Buyer Daniel Stenson brought home a bottle of Macarico to pair with a chestnut ragu: he says its one of the great wine pairings he's had. The same would hold true for summer BBQ, grilling in general and late spring lamb and mushroom stews.
The Macarico is sourced from the volcanic slopes of Basilicata's Mt. Vulture, and the nervy mid-palate, blanketed with a fine powder of savory flavors like pepper, tobacco, and dark minerals tells you just as much.
The wine comes from a special, and severe, terroir. Volcanic soils at altitudes of up to 600 meters with cool mountain breezes. Daytime temperatures can reach 108 degrees only to plummet to as low as 60 at night. These massive temperature swings prolong the hang-times of the grapes; this southern region is one of the latest in all of Italy to harvest. (Click here for more on this extreme place.)
Indeed, it is this severe landscape that gives the Macarico its tension, its truly impeccable balance. Ripeness isn't a problem in Italy's sun-scorched south: What's hard is attaining fruit with ripeness and vibrancy - the Macarico shows beautifully perfumed, complex cherry and black berry fruits, violets, all lifted and defined by grippy tannins and a powerful acidity.
For Italian wine lovers, this is a no-brainer. However, it will also have a broad appeal and fans of Rhones and the reds of Southern France (think Languedoc) are very likely to enjoy the profile and energy of this wine, to name but one obvious group.
Anyone who's intrigued by this offer should go for a bottle; the tariff is low and the wine is flat out that compelling.
The final shipment of this wine has just arrived. Our last tranche, received in the fall of 2008, just flew off the shelf, obsessed over as it was by a few customers (as well as a good portion of the staff).
This is, alas, another one of those offers that is likely to sell out well before the weekend is over; in fact, our most recent Italian offers have sold out the day the email went out. We urge to reply as quickly as possible with your maximum order and we will allocate as fairly as possible. To order, click below or call the store at (212) 980-9463.