Luigi Tecce - Power and Elegance

Before moving to our new digs at 79 Chambers Street, our last staff tasting at 148 Chambers Street was with Luigi Tecce, the charismatic winemaker from Campania (who until this release bottled his wines under the Taurasi DOCG). I had very little experience with the wines, aside from seeing them on the shelf on and off over the last 23 years, and I will never forget the impression left on me by this living piece of history and his incredible wines. I just didn't know how good Aglianico could be, and I am now convinced that any collector or enthusiast of fine wines should make sure to try the Taurasis of Luigi Tecce if they have are not familiar with them. Yes, they are rustic wines from the south of Italy, but as Luigi himself said with pride and passion, his wines can be described with two words: Power and Elegance. I couldn't think of a better description, as I tasted his 2018 Riserva, an enveloping red with leathery notes, black fruit and an incredible finesse that I was simply not expecting. Today we offer four wines, a Rosato that JW told me we had to include in the newsletter (as it really does transcend the category), and three reds, Tecce's Campi Taurasini 'Satirycon,' and his exquisite 2018s, the 'Puro Sangue' and Riserva 'Poliphemo Vecchie Vigne'  - Eben Lillie

A bit of history for anyone whose interest has thoroughly been piqued....

Taurasi is one of Italy's most historic volcanic growing regions, with its winemaking origins going back to Greco-Roman times, as long ago as 800BC. Tecce is one of the great traditionalists in the region, forgoing the over-oaked and over-extracted fashion of Taurasi wines from the 80s and 90s for wines of powerful elegance. The grapes grow in the high-altitude Sud-Alta Valle commune of Taurasi, on complex soil layerings of sand, limestone and Vesuvian pumice. Fermentation takes place in large chestnut tini and the wines age in large oak vessels (botti grande), that fully highlight the qualities of the unique volcanic terroir.

From John Gilman's View from the Cellar #63: "Luigi Tecce is clearly amongst the very finest, if not the finest, winemakers in Taurasi today and he will be a superstar in the very near future...the Bruno Giacosa of the region."

From Ian d’Agata’s Native Wine Grapes of Italy: “Aglianico is one of the world’s great red grapes, one that is finally carving a place in mainstream wine-drinking consciousness. Along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese it is generally believed to be one of Italy’s three best wine grapes, but in my opinion it is far more: at the very least, it is one of the world’s dozen or so best wine grapes.”

Our own Jamie Wolff's reflections on Ian d'Agata's quote: Maybe everyone else already knows this, but it’s a bold claim, and after reviewing the competition in my head, I’d have to agree (in any case it’s an interesting game to play). One difficulty is that Aglianico is still not very well known, so I was thrilled earlier this year when John Gilman (another on my very short list of most esteemed wine writers), devoted an article to Taurasi in his newsletter, The View from the Cellar. John has kindly allowed us to link to the article, which gives a full history of Taurasi which I highly encourage you to read – and to subscribe to his amazing publication. I have extracted two salient quotes: “…for much of the twentieth century Taurasi and Mastroberardino were virtually synonymous, with the winery responsible for at least ninety percent of all the Taurasi that was bottled in the region through the end of the 1980s… There is no doubt that back in those days, Taurasi was a better-known wine than it is today, and many commentators of the time were prone to call Taurasi “the Barolo of the south”, referring to both its quality and the impressive longevity that Taurasi possessed, like its more famous cousin to the north.”

Many thanks to the folks at PortoVino for their extensive notes on the wines and on Luigi's mythological references (see their article on Tecce for more info). Though I did write a note on the Satyricon, I was completely swept away by the experience with the 2018s that I failed to write a single adjective, though I assure you the wines were breathtaking, truly a marriage of power and elegance.

-Eben Lillie

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