Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boccella’s 2006 Campi Taurasini “Rasott”

After the veritable flood of provocatvive remarks (more like a drizzle really…) that came crashing through the gates in response to Thursday’s post on the ethics of accepting wine samples for review, today I’ll get right down to business.

After digging around for historical information about the relatively new Italian wine designation of Irpinia Campi Taurasini, I can more than sympathize with Il Signor Cevola’s frustration over the lack of a central repository of information on Italy’s DOCG system. If you think it’s tough digging up info on the 40+ Italian DOCGs, just try doing the same for any of the hundreds of Italian DOCs. If there’s an authoritative, up-to-date source on the web, I couldn’t find it. Let me know if you can.

At any rate, here’s what I was able to cobble together, using my far less than utilitarian grasp of the Italian language and stopping a step or two short of the outer limits of my patience.

Irpinia was first proposed as a DOC zone in 2003 and ratified as such in September 2005. The designation "Campi Taurasini," one of several subsets of the broader Irpinia DOC, is specific to Aglianico based reds from the “Taurasian Fields” – my translation, feel free to improve upon it – in the hills east of Avellino. The delimited area is inclusive of the entire Taurasi DOCG zone plus seven additional communes. Wines from Campi Taurasini, as with Taurasi, must include a minimum of 85% Aglianico, with allowance for blending other “non-aromatic” local red varieties. The nine-month aging requirement for Campi Taurasini, however, is considerably shorter than the obligatory three years for Taurasi. Wines can be released to the market as early as September 1 in the year following the harvest.

Campi Taurasini “Rasott,” Azienda Agricola Boccella 2006
About $22. 14.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Domenico Selections, New York, NY.
Per the Domenico Selections website (importer Terence Hughes sent me two sample bottles for review consideration), Boccella’s Campi Taurasini is varietal Aglianico from young vines planted in limestone and clay dominated soil at 800 meters altitude. The Boccella family farms organically and bottles their reds without fining or filtration.

That latter factoid presents itself quite clearly (unclearly, actually) in the glass, as a fine cloud of particulate matter hangs in liquid suspension, giving a slightly murky appearance to the wine’s otherwise deep blackish-red hue. Initial aromas of cherry fruit, tobacco and cedar unfurl to scents of blackberries, grapiness and, with more time in the glass, a touch of pruniness. In the mouth, sweet red fruit hits first – dried Montmorency cherries in particular – laced with herbal flavors of rosemary and bay leaf. There’s an edge of grape and wood derived tannins that call out, along with that cedary oak influence, for pairing this wine with grilled red meats. The wine handles its relatively high alcohol (14.5%) well; you’ll know it’s there via body and texture but there’s no hint of heat on the finish. Surprisingly fresh, medium acidity helps the whole package along and actually helps make it more food-friendly. In spite of the meat pairing suggestion above, I found it perfectly viable alongside pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, ceci, olive oil and rosemary – a touch big-boned perhaps, but it still worked.

Will I be running out to buy a truckload? Probably not. But I’d happily order a bottle were I dining in a Southern Italian restaurant savvy enough to give it a place on its wine list. It’s a solid wine that gets extra marks from me for its freshness and persistence.

Faults? It’s facile enough to demonize filtration for potentially robbing wines of some of their natural character but here’s a case where I think a light filtration might have been to the wine’s benefit. Aside from that, I really have to stretch to find anything at issue.

Why am I going looking for faults rather than simply being open to noticing them? The quandary I mentioned in my procedural post of Thursday turns out to have what may be an unexpected twist. Rather than being kinder or gentler to a wine because it was received as a sample from a friend, I found myself being even more intensely critical than usual. In that context, I’m glad Terry sent two bottles – I told you he’s a smart guy – as the second bottle didn’t just show better than the first, it also gave me the opportunity to relax into the tasting experience, to get to know the wine better, to accept its bumps and wrinkles as a natural and complementary part of the whole.

7 comments:

Terence said...

A fair review, Mr. McD. This one is a personal favorite of mine, though I think it's a lot to handle on a daily basis. This 06 is still a baby -- it will be interesting to taste it in a couple of years.

Bocella's 07, just being released, is also the product of a very warm year, though I think it will prove a bit fresher in the medium term.

We are getting great first reactions to the 2005 Taurasi, which we will have available here by fall, which is certainly the right time of year for it. A couple of NY restos are already clamoring for it, which makes me happy.

You mention the organic aspect. The Boccellas are in the midst of the long process of gaining biodynamic certification and are roughly 3 years into the 7 year process.

As to the lack of filtration, I agree that you like to see a shining ruby or garnet jewel tone in your glass. But...the proof is in the tasting, and I note that you don't say anything about a dirty (or brett-y) taste or smell.

Thanks for the review, and it's OK if you practice tough love. Anything but tough spite.

Terence said...

By the way, is that your pic of the bottle? Wonderful. May I steal it?

Terence said...

Sorry to pepper you with comments, David, but this portal has proved very helpful to me with regard to at least Campanian denominations: http://www.vinocampania.it/vinoincampania/mappa.htm

michelecolline said...

Try www.lavinium.com for DOCs and DOCGs...

David McDuff said...

"I agree that you like to see a shining ruby or garnet jewel tone in your glass."I'm assuming you're using the collective "you" here, T. I'm not a stickler for crystal clarity and am certainly not a proponent of fining and filtration as a matter of course, just as methods to be used or not at the discretion of a (hopefully thoughtful) winemaker. In the case of the '06 "Rasott," I was just surprised at the quantity and pervasiveness of solid matter in the wine. There were a few spots of light sedimentation on the sides of the bottle but most of the solids were, as I mentioned, suspended in the wine itself. Nothing to do with agitation; they showed no signs of settling in a resting glass.

In any case, it was more an observation than a complaint. And you're right, there were no apparent brett or hygiene issues with the wine.

And yes, the photo is my own. You're more than welcome to use it.

Thanks also, T and Michele, for the suggested resources. I'd come across them both in passing but have now bookmarked them for future and more in-depth reference.

Mike said...

Great post!

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Mike.

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