Taurasi DOCG is a red wine appellation in Irpinia, a sub-region of Campania, southern Italy. It is located 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Naples, where the vineyards sit among the Apennine hills of Avellino. The wines are based on the Aglianico grape variety – the name comes from Ellenico, meaning "Greek".
Aglianico's success here is largely due to the terroir and topography of the Taurasi zone. Its vineyards lie at least 400 meters (1300ft) above sea level, and many of the best sites (Castelfranci, Jampenne, Radici and Torre) are found at higher altitudes.
©Feudi di San Gregorio
There are many soil types including calcareous marls, volcanic deposits and limestone. The latter contributes firm tannins to the wines, while the volcanic soil adds a certain smokiness.
Taurasi first gained its DOC status in 1970 and was promoted to DOCG in 1993. Under these regulations the wines must comprise at least 85 percent Aglianico from the province of Avellino. The remaining 15 percent can be made up with other permitted local red grapes, usually Piedirosso and sometimes Sangiovese and/or Barbera. The majority, however, tend to be pure Aglianico.
Along with Aglianico del Vulture in Basilicata, Taurasi wines are considered the southern Italian equivalents of Barolo and Barbaresco. They are full bodied with a great ability to age – some can reach 20 years. Despite their density, high levels of extract and tannin, they retain good linearity and finesse.
Aglianico wines tend to flavors of raspberries, plums and black cherry. There can also be smoky notes evocative of a lit cigar, freshly ground coffee and new leather. As the wines mature, they can take on earthy, forest-floor and gamey notes. Although they can be drunk young, a little patience will smooth out the rough edges.
Like many of Italy's wine regions, the Taurasi DOCG has come under Greek and Roman influence. Its origins date back as far as 800 BC. In spite of Taurasi's ancient origins, however, it is also regarded as a modern wine.
This is largely due to the efforts of the esteemed winemaker Antonio Mastroberardino, who played a huge part in bringing this area to the forefront. His legendary 1968 Taurasi grabbed international attention and, since then, the area's popularity and reputation has soared.