Last week I was able to attend the Benvenuto Brunello tasting in NYC. This is quite a unique tasting experience as producers unveil the new releases of Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello Reserve and Rosso di Montalcino. I tasted spectacular wines from famed producers, but after tasting plenty of Brunello earlier in the week, I wanted something different. With the news of an approaching blizzard, I wanted big wines that would fit the dramatic mood, so I reached for two bottles from Campania. I chose Galardi’s Terra di Lavoro from the volcanic slopes in the high hills of Sessa Aurunca in northwestern Campania, and I selected Raffaele Palma’s Salicerchi, which grows on a steep slope of the Amalfi coast.
Galardi 2011 Terra di Lavoro $69.99
This wine comes from a small family estate that only makes one wine, Terra di Lavoro, which means “land of work” in Italian and reflects the labor of love that is needed to produce the wine. Terra di Lavore is made with two indigenous grapes, Aglianico and Piedirosso, both harvested from vines that grow on volcanic soils; these soils allow for production of wines with incredible depth, complexity, and elegance. The wine is a powerhouse—dark, dense and inky with a nose full of dark fruit, and layers of smoke cocoa, and minerality, all underlain by cigar wrapper and earth notes. The palate is full and silky with warm woodsy tannins that balance nicely with this wine’s acidity and lingering spice on the finish. Drink 2018 to 2030.
Rafaelle Palma makes biodynamic three wines: Puntacorce, a blend of Falanghina, Biancolella, Ginestra, and other local varieties; Salicerchi, a rosé made by the gentlly pressing Piedriosso, Aglianco and Tintore; and Montecorvo, a blend of Piedrosso, Aglianco, and Tintore. Palma makes its rosé with the same grapes as its red, but it macerates the grapes on the skins for only 18 hours, which is enough time to extract the desired tannins and color desired. Don’t let this rosato fool you. It is a big, dark, cherry-hued rosé with loads of funky notes, exploding with a nose of licorice, some herbal notes of sage, and baking spices like cloves. The palate is pleasantly weighted with noticeable tannins and balanced acidity that linger with a nice, sweet tannic note. Drink now and for the next half decade.