Cantine Russo Taurasi is a family estate in the middle of the prestigious Taurasi appellation in Avellino which produces rich and fully flavored Aglianicos, Fianos, and Falanghinas. What I love about the Russo Taurasi wines is that they let the grapes each year tell them what "styles" of wines to produce. This results in very fresh tasting wines with remarkable flavor profiles and a huge number of food pairing ideas.
Since 1800 the Russo family has owned a small piece of land in the Taurasi area called "la Carazita". In 1999 Ermanno Russo decided to make his dream to come true and started to re-plant the vineyards in the place where he was born and then expanded the estate and built the winery.
Aglianico is the best native red grape of Irpinia and here it finds it's natural "terroir" due to the volcanic clay and limestone soil and the perfect vineyard positioning being covered by sun from dawn until sunset. Russo Taurasi introduced its first wines in 2006 and it is managed by Marcella Russo, her sister Cristina, and her husband Claudio.
The family's respect for the qualities of the native grapes also extends to their flexibility each year in wine making. Initial vinification is to bring out the full flavors of each year's grapes but after that there will be a broad range of aging processes. The Russo Taurasi wines evolve slowly and patiently...whether in stainless steel or a combination of barriques, barrels, and tonneaus, and which is based on the wine and the vintage. Aging in wood is not to "add flavors" but only to gracefully complete each wine.
Although this wine fulfills all the requirements to be a Taurasi DOCG Aglianico, it is, in its own way, another example of the Russo's creativity. As described earlier in the introduction to this page, the overall philosophy is to let their wines evolve slowly and patiently. The result with the 2010 "Spalatrone" is a perfectly balanced wine with significant aging potential.
Initial aromas of soy, dark plums, ripe cherries, peaches, and mild tobacco along with hints of leather and old rose progress into flavors of cedar, dark cherries, plums, and ripe blackberries along with hints of blueberries. As opposed to the "gotcha" moment of the Carazita which provides so many sensual delights, the Spalatrone provides a deep sense of elegance and refinement. The wine is perfectly balanced between food friendly acidity and complementary tannins and also then provides a very memorable rich saturated finish.
Food pairings would include Filet Mignon, New York Steak, Rib Eye, Roast Beef, Short Ribs, Pork Chops, Salmon, Smoked Turkey, BBQ Chicken, Duck, spicy pasta sauces, vegetable stir frys, a variety of cheeses including blue, gruyere, and gouda, and chocolate desserts.
The wine is produced from very carefully selected clusters from the best sites in the estate's "La Carazita" vineyard and harvest is usually at the end of October. Long maceration in stainless steel tanks preserves the freshness of the wine. After initial fermentation, the wine is aged partly in barriques and partly in French oak barrels for a period of between 36 to 48 months. Aging potential is at least 15 years and possibly between 20 and 25 years.