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What our expert thought of Re Manfredi, Aglianico del Vulture




the tasting

The Tasting


In the glass this is a properly deep blood red.  Five years in barrel and bottle don’t seem to have softened its intensity, but maturity is evident in the way its colour shades to garnet at the rim.  There’s no hint of youthful purple here; this is a wine that looks fully grown-up.  Swirl the glass and it looks like port, with huge slow tears sliding down the sides.
 
It smells grown-up too: rich, warm and well-integrated.  The fine nose is subtle but stylish, and very Italian.  There’s old, well-polished wood and leather, even tar, strewn with old roses and dried herbs: thyme and tobacco.  The dark fruits are dried (prune and fig) or steeped in alcohol (crème de mûre), and spiced with cloves and white pepper.  There’s a hint of marzipan too.  It smells a little bit medicinal, quite Christmassy, and definitely expensive.
 
At 14.5% you would expect this to be a big wine.  It’s certainly full-bodied but it isn’t heavy, thanks to fine minty acidity that cleanses the palate and cools the warmth of the alcohol.  The taste is very savoury, with dark soy and black truffles over dried fruit flavours of raisin, prune and cherry.  A liquorice note echoes the medicinal nose.
 
And then there are the tannins!  Lots and lots of them.  But they’re superbly fine-grained and ripe, so that you taste their bitterness rather than have them suddenly tug all the saliva from your mouth.  They nicely offset the inherent sweetness of the high alcohol and rich fruit, making this wine taste very dry.
 
The warm finish is long, spicy and satisfying, with juicy acidity coming through again to balance the drying effect of those big chewy tannins.


Assessment


This wine really surprised me.  Knowing Aglianico’s fearsome reputation for acid and tannin, I wasn’t expecting it to be ready to drink even after five years.  But it is, just, if you approach it with food and the right “yes I do think I’m hard enough” attitude.
 
That unexpected approachability is thanks to some clever winemaking.  Aglianico rarely exceeds 13.5% so the grapes for this wine must have been really ripe, which will have smoothed their tannins and reduced their acidity.  Aging for a year in small barrels has softened its rough edges and integrated the component flavours, and because only a fifth of those barrels were new they haven’t overpowered the wine with oak.
 
But that hasn’t made it remotely modern or international in style!  Defiantly old-world and old-school, this is as Italian as mama’s meatballs (which it would suit quite nicely).  I can see why they call it the Barolo of the south: tar, roses, dried fruits, high acidity and big tannins are the classic traits of the Nebbiolo grape.  But Aglianico has its own style; this is herbier, fuller, darker-fruited and deeper in colour than Nebbiolo wines like Barbaresco and Barolo.
 
Coming from an under-the-radar appellation in Italy’s unfashionable south, it’s also a lot cheaper.  A wine of this quality and maturity with ‘Barolo’ on the label would cost two or even three times as much.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear deep garnet, strong slow legs
Nose

Intensity medium

Aromas floral (old roses), dried herbs (thyme, tobacco), oak (polished wood, leather, tar), ripe black fruit (prune, fig, crème de mûre), spice (clove, white pepper), nut (marzipan), medicinal

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness very dry

Acidity medium++

Body full

Tannins high, but ripe & fine-grained

Intensity medium+

Flavours dried black fruits (raisin, prune, bitter cherry), savoury (dark soy, black truffle), herbs (mint), spice (liquorice)
Finish

Length long

Flavours as palate, warm, spicy, touch of bitterness
Other notes
Very Italian! Nose subtle, fine & quite developed. Well-integrated & balanced, esp. on finish, despite chewy tannins. Classy & just ready, but will improve.


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