Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a daily drinker game changer on our hands here with the Epicuro 2011 Aglianico Beneventano! It’s a different varietal that doesn’t get a lot of airtime in the USA. It’s one of the oldest grapes in the world! Hailing from Greece originally, it’s currently making it’s home in Italy with a few small holdings in other sunny places around the globe like California and Australia. I’ve only seen it at Trader Joe’s but there seems to be some availability through online retailers. The reason this wine is a game changer for us is the fact it has a lot of what makes more expensive wines tick: finesse, structure, elegance, and some serious end of palate flavors right before the finish.
The Epicuro 2011 Aglianico Beneventano comes in at 13% alcohol. Our bottle was in great shape with no issues (unlike last week’s wine). We chilled the wine to about 65 degrees and used stemless red wine glasses for tasting. When the wine was opened the aroma of cherries and blackberries was almost overpowering. This aroma softened a little while aerating the wine with our Vinturi. The wine was a deep garnet color with a violet sheen.
The nose on the Epicuro 2011 Aglianico Beneventano was exceptionally fruity. You had blackberries and cherries at the forefront with hints of raspberry. The underlying nose, which you have to really swirl and sniff closely to get is of an herb garden with traces of smoke from a low banked hardwood fire. This is the first portion of the game-changing nature. The palate was exceptional; the nose notes are there in all their glory along with vanilla, black and white pepper, and the slightest hint of leather. Game changer two is even though this wine is dry is it has a slightly sweet impression in the mouth, along with the acid in the wine really enhances the “berry” experience. The final game changing element is the “vapor blowback” at the end of the palate with a juniper/anise note. This is something you wouldn’t see on a $6 bottle of wine. The finish is long and dry with the leather, vanilla, and juniper still going but with the addition of a slight raisin flavor. The acid, tannins, and body all come together to produce an elegant harmony. Nothing overtakes the other. It’s perfect alone or with foods. In some ways it’s very much like a mid priced Cabernet from Napa, with a little twist of extra berry flavor and a silkier lightness instead of a velvet fist. It’s not quite as elegant as a mid priced well done Pinot Noir but it’s very close.
When it comes to rating this wine I’m a bit stymied. Both my husband and I liked it very much and it will be purchased again and again, possibly by the case. I found no real holes in the wine. It’s not as immense as some of the better red wines I’ve had but the amount of nuance and elegance coupled with lightness is very appealing. Looking at the internet, reviews for this wine vary greatly. I can’t say how those bottles were tasted, chilled, aerated, or even stored. Perhaps, my bottle was the confluence of all the right things because I certainly can’t agree with some of the low ratings. Is it as memorable as the Lafite’s and Latour’s from the 70’s/80’s I’ve sampled? Or even as good some library vintages from Napa or the Willamette? The answer is no, but it’s bourgeoning on greatness. As for the rating, we are going to place it at a 90. The value is outstanding. I think this wine will be perfect for the upcoming holidays, so stock up before I buy it all!
Have you tried the Epicuro 2011 Aglianico Beneventano? If so let us know if you agree with our rating in the comments below.