By Paul Caputo

Taurasi DOCG is the red wine jewel of Campania. Its robust structure and ethereal notes of black cherry, balsam and gentle wood have helped produce a reputation as southern Italy’s finest red. Perhaps… There is no doubt that Taurasi is a fabulous wine and at its best can rival the more famous appellations of the north. The wine itself is produced from the Aglianico grape with recent scientific research confirming that the Aglianico di Taurasi biotype is in fact distinct from the related Aglianico del Taburno and Aglianico del Vulture. The village of Taurasi, which sits in the heart of Irpinia, Campania’s hilly fertile area to the east of Naples, provides the main growing area, although the wine can also be made from Aglianico grown in the nearby villages of Bonito, Castelfranci, Castelvetere sul Calore, Fontanarosa, Lapio, Luogosano, Mirabella Eclano, Montefalcione, Montemarano, Montemiletto, Paternopoli, Pietradefusi, S. Angelo all’Esca, S. Mango sul Calore, Torre le Nocelle and Venticano.

Taurasi’s modern wine history dates back to 1928 and the first vintage from Mastroberardino, one of the great wine making families of Southern Italy. A number of producers make wines that set the benchmark for the appellation. Mastroberardino preside over a long standing reputation as one of the founders of quality wine-making in the region and as such undoubtedly provide a reference. They produce stunning wines, notably the Radici Riserva which is consistently excellent. In more recent years Feudi di San Gregorio have helped put Taurasi on the map for international consumers. Their Taurasi generally spends 18 months in barrique before release making it one of the more modern expressions of the wine. It is perhaps Cantina Antonio Caggiano that deserve the biggest mention. Their artisan expressions of Taurasi, particularly the wonderful Vigna Macchia dei Got are well worth hunting down. Other wines to look out for include Quintodecimo’s Vigna Quintodecimo Riserva and Salvatore Molettieri’s beautiful expressions of Aglianico grown in Montemarano.