Musto Carmelitano: Maschito, Basilicata


 

 

The Vulture area of Southern Italy is an incredible place, suspended between earth and sky, a wild and thriving nature, castles and greenery stretching out of sight: it looks almost as if one is in another era, another world. You wouldn’t be amazed to bump into knights on horses, it would seem natural: Melfi with its castle, the lakes of Monticchio with their wild nature and dark and gloomy water, the Maddalena Mountains in the distance with their wilderness.

In every corner vines and olives are witness to an ancient and solid relationship between man and earth. However the tidy and beautiful bush-trained cultivations are often neglected or abandoned: a sign that a piece in this ancient bond, which struggles to support itself, has broken and as a result the production of grapes in Lucania has halved and making wine is no longer the business it was.

 

 

Strange because the aglianico produced in this corner of the south, which is located among various Italian regions, is very good, influenced by the volcanic soil and by this wild nature: an indomitable and vigorous drink, like the landscape would suggests.

I remember old bottles of Paternostro or of d’Angelo that are still engraved in my palate, then everything changed: aglianico became a wine that to battle its excessive and coarse tannin, which has always been its trait, has been concentrated and marked with new wood, in an attempt to tame and refine it. So now when touring the Vulture area one frequently hears that wood is fundamental for taming the wine!!!

It was late afternoon when we knocked on the door of this rural house in Maschito: a young woman opened the door and she looked much younger than she actually was.

 

Elisabetta is in her early 30s: she has the bright face of a southern woman and gentle manners. Her father next to her didn’t talk much and looked at us. I went there because I like these wines a lot; they struck me years ago when Paolo De Cristoforo made me try them, with their violent and vital flavour, with a rhythmic sip slightly appeased by cement. Yes you have read correctly: here they use cement and more will be used in the future, no selected yeasts and a careful and moderate use of wood: wines are made as they always were in Vulture and as they say they can no longer be made, and what wines!

 

 

Elisabetta has clear ideas about what she wants and after a quick visit to the spotless cellar, she started to open bottles:

 

 

1) White Maschitano 2012, a smoky and volcanic nose then the aromatic exuberance of muscat; the palate is taut and rhythmic and the finish sapid, fresh and slightly technical.

2) Red Maschitano 2011 Basilicata igt red, fruity, exuberant, Mediterranean nose. The weave of tannin is lively and precise, wandering between herbs an acid freshness. The palate is a dance, rhythmic and sapid. A perfect wine: simple, gastronomic and effective.

 

3) Pian del Morro 2010 aglianico DOC, the nose is rich and Mediterranean, still a bit disguised by the wood. After allowing the wine to breath, the fruitiness is alive and intense, with Maquis and bitter herb aromas, while the palate is juicy and fresh.

4) Serra del Prete 2010 Aglianico del Vulture Doc, the nose is still closed and important, aromas of clean and fresh fruit; the cement gives it a warmer and more welcoming tone, the flavour is juicy with Mediterranean and rich fruit and a faint mineral tone: it’s good and will become very good.

5) Serra del Prete 2009 Aglianico del Vulture Doc, the nose is complex and fully-developed, fascinating aromas of violet and incense, then a complex note of soot and gloomy. The flavour is stretched and fresh, with a perfect tannin plot, pleasantly incisive and intense. Excellent!

 

6) Serra del Prete 2008 Aglianico del Vulture Doc, a heavy nose, maybe the result of a warmer season. Ozone perfume and a slight tone of excessive maturity, the fruit is fully-developed plum, the flavour slightly seated and less rhythmic than usual. A well defined wine to be drunk now.

7) Serra del Prete 2007 Aglianico del Vulture Doc, the nose is fresh and alive starts with fruit, then turns to bitter herbs and notes of ancestral humus. Unfortunately the flavour is bitter and with an ungraceful tannin, very incisive and obnoxious. The acidity supports it and makes it pleasant to drink.

8) Serra del Prete 2011 Aglianico del Vulture Doc  (preview), the nose is alive and dynamic, clean between strawberry and a hematic note that is vital and nervous. In the mouth it’s austere, still young and taut; the tannin is alive and compulsive, but orderly, without flaws or excessive tannins. The palate is rhythmic and fresh, a nice sapid flavour confirming this: it will most likely make important evolutions in the bottle.

 


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