Wine is the essence of life. In the countries where there is wine, they did not need to reform the church and they have the best kitchens.
I don’t know if this is exactly what Luigi Tecce said when he and I shared a salami and tasted his life-changing Aglianicos in his kitchen earlier this year. But I don’t really care. It is just one of the nuggets I scribbled down as I listened to him talk.
When you meet someone as passionate as Luigi it doesn’t really matter that he can’t speak a word of English and I not a word of Italian. He talked and waved his hands and I grinned and nodded like that wasted guy at the front of the dancefloor leaning over the decks, trying to hug the DJ. But the thing is, I did understand what he was saying, even though I didn’t understand the words. The emotions just pour out of his mouth and you can’t help but be carried along like you are dancing manically to his song, chewing your face and grinding your teeth.
He is a very slight man, with the most zen-like aura. He seems content. He smiles a lot. He radiates calmness. That is until he starts to talk. Then it is a blur of hands, eyebrows and whatever else he decides to wave to the cut of his jib.
Above; Luigi jibber-jabbering in his cellar and (below) in his kitchen
His wines are as emotive as his banter. I have not tasted more soulful red wines than these. Grown at 550m on soils rich with volcanic ashes from Vesuvio, Luigi only started making wine after his father died in 1997. Until then the grapes grown on the family estate in Taurasi were sold to the local co-operative.
He released his first wine in 2003 and now produces about 23,000 bottles a year. 10,000 under his Satyricon label, an Irpinia Rosso, and the remainder split roughly equally across two Taurasi DOC labels; Poliphemo, made from 80 year old vines and a new riserva called Puro Sangue from a vineyard he planted 15 years ago. The 2013 Puro Sangue is the very first vintage and was released earlier this year (2018).
Above; Luigi looking cool in his Poliphemo vineyard, Taurasi
These are future classics which reflect the best that Aglianico and Taurasi has to offer. I implore you to seek them out.
Sadly they are difficult to get hold of, in the UK in any case. It is a shame that whilst many people will happily shell out £40 for a fairly average village Burgundy from a mid-tier producer, there are very few who will spend that sort of money on a hand-crafted, long-lived wine from one of the finest winemakers in Italy. If it is not made in Piemonte or Tuscany, it appears to be a hard sell. David Berry Green distributes Luigi’s wines but there is currently no UK importer. Berry Brothers did sell the wines when he was there but, alas, no longer. You might be able to get some from one of the Italian online merchants like Italvinus or Tannico, who seem to have limited stocks from time to time.
I wish you luck.
Here are my thoughts on the wines, just to tease you...
Satyricon 2015, Irpinia Rosso
Luscious nose of cherries and spice, this is powerful yet soft on the palate. Brilliant acidity, so pure and floral with black fruits and refreshing sourness on the finish. Complete.
Satyricon 2010, Irpinia Rosso
Brick red. Fantastic nose of flowers and spice. A brilliantly evolved mouthful of red fruits and spices. So mellow, it has just melted together with bottle age. Delicious.
Poliphemo 2013, Taurasi
Aromas of flowers fill the room. Amazingly light on its feet given the stated 14.5% alcohol. Perfectly balanced acidity and a complex jumble of red fruits, herbs, flowers and spice. There are grainy, yet smooth tannins and oodles of minerality on the finish. Yes. Back of the net.
Puro Sangue 2013, Taurasi Riserva
Deep red colour. Amazing perfume of flowers and spice. Great balance on the palate. Soft, yet robust. Minerals again. Perfectly integrated tannins mean it can be enjoyed now but will last forever.