50% Aglianico, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon - Big Bordeaux-style with a Southern-Italian heart, intense black and red fruits with a long mineral finish in a polished style. Only two barrels made, and will never be seen again...
In 2019 I finally got to do something that I had been curious about for a long time. You may have heard the questionable term “Super Tuscan” before. Originally a marketing phrase for French grapes grown in or blended with Sangiovese from Tuscany, the Italians basically discovered that blending Cab or Merlot with Sangiovese made it darker, richer and more sellable. They also planted “non-indigenous” international grapes (coded language for Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah) in warmer areas, used new French oak barriques, and poof, 100-point scores! It was the 80’s – capitalist imperialism had conquered all, and let’s be honest, some the Cabernet from the area of Bolgheri is shockingly, staggeringly good. It just meant ditching culture, restraint, history, etc. No big whoop.
That trend occurred a bit in Southern Italy as well, but nothing like in the wealthier, more international North. The mezzogiorno isn’t exactly a market maker, though today Sicily is forging that path. And though I hate Cabernet in my Sangiovese, I find it quite aligned with Aglianico sometimes, amplifying the more gravelly and minerally aspects of Cabernet and adding Old World flair and grit. So, what we have here is a Super Campanian (or Basilicatan) made of 50/50 Cabernet Sauvignon from a portion of our 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon and estate Aglianico. For some reason I wanted to do something in that same polished, international style, so I reserved the two oakiest French barrels I had, and after 22 months in elevage, we bottled. Unlike the other wines, we even did a bit of egg white fining in the Bordeaux tradition – vegans beware.
This is the unusual wine in our lineup with a bit of oak, basically a modern-ite (no, not post- post-modern hyper conformist natty, or "modern" 1992 post-Reaganite third-world trampling raisin juice) Super Campanian, relatively fruit-forward, super precise, going for the Napa hillside profile, maybe Spring Mountain-ish with a kiss of French oak. Not heavy but densely coiled, if anything the Aglianico tightens the Cabernet's roundness a hair, puts it in Spanx and pushes some red fruit onto it and builds to a minerally and slightly sanguine finish, while the Cab ads a little flesh and purple plum fruit to the Aglianico and polishes the rustic edges a bit. I am excited by where this is going...
The label image is by Denis Forkas Kostromintin, a dissident Russian artist who explores ancient myth and beauty with his own distinctly dark flair and shimmering aesthetic. He has been a favorite album cover artist among European metal bands for a while, which is how I came to know him. This particular image is one of several exploring the Typhon mythos, child of Gaia, buried under Mount Etna (the Southern Italian connection – Aitna) after battling Zeus. This image seems to represent a humanized, noble and perhaps mopiley-resigned-yet-living and perhaps scheming Typhon. He is without the legendary 100 snakes on his head, but the tail is clear, and he is coupled with the theme of the Katechon; that which restrains or withholds destruction, suffering and ruin, but in so doing prevents salvation and a new beginning. A noble venture perhaps, but also one born of fear that addresses both the stranglehold of tradition or the status quo, and the fear of the unknown and unknowable change. Something we all must face in our own ways, politically and personally, gods or otherwise.
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