Taurasi is the granddaddy of Irpinia red wines and the namesake wine of the Irpinia Aglianico grape. Like Barolo and Barbaresco are to their Nebbiolo grape up in Piemonte, Irpinia Aglianico is the solid foundation of Taurasi that allows for the creation of this bold, big in your mouth, fruit-filled red wine.
So why are you familiar with Barolo and not Taurasi? It’s a great question and there are centuries of pent up frustration around the fact that wineries up North have been using the Irpinia Aglianico grape to cut their Barolos, while boasting of Barolo’s superiority over the very red wines made from the grapes that make Barolos enjoyable.
Clearly I’m biased, but COME. ON.
The good news: you can often find Taurasi wines at a much lower price point than the Northern wines more familiar to those drinking Italian wines. Take advantage while you can, because I’m banking on changing how the world looks at Irpinia wines.
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Tantalizing Tastes Taurasi can easily age for 20-30 years after release without a missing a beat (as long as you’re storing your wines properly). It’s going to be big, bold, tannic, with perfectly balanced acidity and leave you wanting more. You’ll notice the ruby red color in the glass and notes of cherry and red fruits instantly. And depending on where in Irpinia the grapes were grown, you'll get additional differing flavor profiles ranging from blackberries to leather. As this wine ages, the color will turn from deep ruby to nearly orange on the rims of your glass.
Pairings and More Taurasi is no shrinking violet, but that shouldn’t scare you off from opening up a bottle to enjoy. If you’ve been drinking Beaujolais Nouveau or other light red wines recently, this wine might be a shock to your system. You might want to start with an Irpinia Aglianico and work your way up to Taurasi. This wine will pair perfectly with something like a charcuterie with salumi and Italian cheeses, a meaty pasta, or your favorite roasted meats. If you're vegetarian/vegan, and even if you're not, look for umami flavors, like a roasted portobello, to bring out the best in your Taurasi.
The Technicals of Taurasi Only 16 villages in Irpinia are allowed to grow the Irpinia Aglianico grapes to make Taurasi wines and the Italian government demands winemakers follow precise vinification regulations once they’ve harvested their Irpinia Aglianico grapes for the year. Once the grapes enter the doors to the cantina, they need to age a minimum of three years: at least a year in steel tanks, a year in barrels, and a year in bottle. That said, I honestly couldn’t name you one winery putting these wines out to market before a minimum of four years.
Taurasi Masters some year after year favorites include: Azienda Agricola Fiorentino*, Cantina Perillo, Azienda Agricola Boccella*, Il Cancelliere*, Luigi Tecce, and Cantina Lonardo*. (* available to taste through our partners at Schneider's of Capitol Hill.)
How to Drink It open this bottle an hour or so before you’re ready to start drinking. There’s no need for a decanter, but feel free to use one if you like. I’ve compared leaving the wine open in bottle to using a decanter, and both result in incredibly enjoyable wines. My only advice is to up the number of hours you open before drinking the longer the bottle has been aging, but be sure to get tastes in during the process so you can experience how the wine changes before your eyes.
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