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August 201094 The 2000 Terra di Lavoro is one of the most open, showy wines in this tasting. This is a sexy, voluptuous Terra di Lavoro bursting with dark red fruit, flowers and minerals. The 2000 is quite pleasurable today for its sheer opulence, but readers will have to wait another five years or so for the aromas and flavors to move into a more tertiary stage. As delicious as the 2000 is, it remains a relatively simple Terra di Lavoro when tasted alongside the most profound vintages. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030. Terra di Lavoro, first produced in 1994, has quickly established itself as one of Italy’s cult wines. I tasted all of these vintages with proprietors Arturo and Dora Celentano during their first visit to the US. The Celentanos have a huge passion for food and wine, and that exuberance comes through loud and clear in these fabulous wines. Terra di Lavoro is 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from vines planted by consulting oenologist Riccardo Cotarella beginning in 1991. The fruit is harvested according to ripeness rather than strictly by variety, which means that Aglianico and Piedirosso are sometimes picked and vinified together. After the alcoholic fermentation, the wines are racked into French oak where they remain on their lees for several months. Cotarella describes Aglianico as a hard grape to take through malolactic fermentation. He therefore believes it is essential for the final blend to be made before the wines go into malo. The final blend is assembled and undergoes what is usually a very slow malo, in steel for 80-90% of the wine, prior to being moved back into oak. There is little question that malolactic fermentation in stainless steel contributes significant freshness and aging potential to this heroic southern Italian wine.
International Wine Cellar
September 200392+ (a blend of aglianico and piedirosso) Bright ruby-red. Smoky, roasted nose features cherry pit, tobacco, iron, lead pencil, currant leaf, creosote, menthol and pine resin; smells a bit like Haut Brion. Then dense and powerful in the mouth, with pungent, oaky dark berry flavors complicated by tar, tobacco, resin and smoke. A superconcentrated, extremely wild wine with a rather claret-like texture, powerful soil character and strong, slightly bitter hints of oaky torrefaction. The huge, very long and thoroughly untamed finish features big, chewy tannins and notes of dark berries and dried herbs. I was somewhat put off by this wine's bitter oakiness and impression of strong extraction but was impressed by its vibrancy.