Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beneventano Epicuro Aglianico, 2005

Aglianico is one of Italy's great wine grapes, producing a wine that is sometimes called the Barolo of the South. In the early 1980s, I bought and enjoyed many Aglianico del Vulture wines from 1970s vintages that drank beautifully well into the mid-1990s. At that time, I paid $3 to $6 for them, and their counterparts in stores today, when they can be found, are still bargains at about $10 to $25. When I saw this Aglianico at Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor, MI for $5.99, I couldn't resist giving it a try.

Beneventano Epicuro is deep and purplish. Smells thick, and it is. An enormous wine with fruit tannins galore. From the deep color and the thick legs of glycerine clinging to the side of the glass, you might mistake this for an Australian Shiraz or a California Zinfandel. But there's clearly no new oak treatment for this wine--the tannins all come from the peels and pips. It's very young and primary in its fruit aromas and flavors--blackberries, black cherries with a spicy tang. Very full bodied with a velvety mouthfeel, but with good acidity and only 13.5 percent alcohol. I think this is a wine worth buying in quantity for drinking slowly over the next few years to see how it ages; my guess is that it would improve for a decade or longer. But it's also too good to miss right now. At $5.99, it's almost as good a value as the Nerello del Bastardo (see my report November 13, 2007) sitting beside it on the shelf for $6.99.


  1. Couldn't agree more on this one. I keep a monthly top 10 list of Trader Joe's wines and this has been #1 since it hit the shelves in early January. I grabbed three cases and am tempted to grab more every time I go back....

  2. My son says the Epicuro Salice Salentino he gets at Trader Joe's in Ann Arbor is even better than the Aglianico. I haven't tried it since I get to Trader Joe's only occasionally.

  3. I've had the Salice Salentino as well and while it is good I prefer the Aglianico. The Salice Salentino is more earthy/rustic/dirty depending on which adjective you prefer. Certainly a nice wine but I buy this one a bottle at a time and the Aglianico a case at a time.

  4. To me, "earthy" means reflecting elements of the soil in which it's grown; "rustic" means old fashioned and perhaps clumsy in its control of tannins. I consider both to be positive terms. "Dirty," on the other hand, implies wine-making flaws. So I take it that you are being polite with the use of "earthy" and "rustic," whereas I never am.

    I think my son was a bit disarmed by the fruitiness of the Epicuro Aglianico. I've had the wine only once, but that over-riding fruitiness is also what I remember most. It was almost like the friendliness of a Labrador dog. Some might say, "Down, Boy!" but I really liked the exuberant fruit of the wine and thought it was a positive rather than a negative in terms of potential aging. It was, in my opinion, not the type of fruitiness that a wine-maker brings to the forefront of the wine artificially but a fruitiness that derived from a warm growing season and ripe (but not overripe) grapes. I'm interested in seeing how well the wine ages and plan to buy more the next time I visit Trader Joe's. Keep me informed about your experiences with it.