First off: this things smells and tastes EXACTLY like Aglianico. Aglianico from Campania. I don’t think I have ever tasted one from California this dead-on in texture and character. Sure, many of them are GOOD, but there’s always the new-world *warmth* to them that Italy doesn’t quite show. It’s actually hard for me to believe this is a Southern Italian wine sometimes, as the crispness, ridiculous acid and thin, focused fruit feel more akin to St. Magdalener or Corvina (NOT Valpolicella or Amarone versions), even Cru Beaujolais, Chinon, or far Northern Sonoma Coast syrah.
Clear light ruby in the glass, thinning out to a wide pink edge before a magnifying-glass rim. Bright and astringent in the nose, on one hand green and shrubby, on the other a dark, deep secret of ripeness lurks. Such is the juxtaposition of this grape in its purest forms. An almost toasty warmth akin to oak creates buttery, roasted-meat feels in the nose, but producers tell me this is from careful fruit preservation at crush and not lavish–or sometimes ANY–oak programmes. Ridiculous bright cherry–perched precariously atop waves of floral and clean dank cellar–drive the bouquet of perfect proportions on this example. There’s so much LIFE in the nose of this wine–it’s hard to believe how un-appreciated it is in the US. Gritty berry explodes from far below with lots of air–an intoxicating nose you’re almost afraid to taste.
But taste it you must. And everything comes to fruition. The typical lightning-bolt of acidity tries to remain calm and allow some fruit-enjoyment, but it is a giddy child, bouncing and bubbling to spill. Shrill pie-cherry and tart raspberry create a juiciness on entry I DARE anyone to match. Green wood shavings, piled on wet concrete at the curb and topped with freshly-pulled weeds–dirt shook out–create a citrus/green tea spire of minerality and structure, lightening and brightening the already ethereal berry near-speechless levels. Tannins are soft: the acid will fool you, but the tannin is quite light in reality, fruity dessert trickling down the throat the whole time the velvet ache of dry briar punctuates and slowly fades. An absolutely stunning wine. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
2018 SUNCE WINERY Aglianico Heringer VYD Clarksburg California 13.6