Category Archives: Frank Lalli

Drinking Legendary Italian Wines

Frank, a friend and fellow winelover, mentioned he had a bottle of the 1968 Taurasi from Mastroberardino. He had had it for a long time and it moved with him from place to place so he did not think it was drinkable. I said the only way to find out was to open it. He invited me to his home to try the wine and also a number of other older wines.

When we arrived we went down to the wine cellar and selected 7 wines. Three were very old Bordeaux dating back to 1966 and an Italian wine from 1978. All four were undrinkable.

However, with wonderful meals prepared by his Frank’s wife over two days, Carole, we had 3 Italian wines including the 1968 Taurasi and they were all very drinkable. 

IMG_7802DOC Montello Venegazzu (Veneto) Venegazzu Della Casa 1981 Loredan Gasparin made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec from the area north of Venice in the Treviso hills planted from the 1950’s. The wine is aged for 18 months in large neutral barrels. The wine has hints of cassis, black cherry and plum with a hint of licorice and a touch of mushrooms. This wine can last like a Bordeaux. They also produce my favorite grappa from the grapes used for their Capo di Stato wine.

IMG_7803We had an assortment of sliced meats and cheeses for a starter.

IMG_7812 2Taurasi Riserva 1968 Mastroberardino (Campania) made from 100% Aglianico This was such a great vintage that they produced three cuvées based on terroir differences as well as the riserva which is a blend of all three. Most of the grapes come from the 12 hectare Montemarano vineyard and other grapes from the Pian d’Angelo and Castlefranci vineyards. The Motemarano vineyard is at 500/ 600 meters and the exposure is southeast. The soil is clay and crushed limestone and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The harvest was most likely in early November. The hand picked grapes were destemmed at the winery. Skin contact was for 10 days. The wine was aged in large chestnut and then Slovenian casks (30 to 50 hectoliters) for up to 4 years and remained in the cellar for up to eight years before release. The wine has hints of cherry raspberry, tobacco, leather, mint, licorice, prune a touch of herbs and a hint of spice. 

In 2014 I had the 1958 and 1968, both legendary wines, at a lunch organized by the late Philip di Belardino and myself in honor of Antonio Mastroberardino, who had recently passed away. Piero Mastroberardino, his son, attended and brought the wines.

IMG_7809With the wines we had grilled leg of lamb and grilled romaine lettuce.

IMG_7814Carmignano  Riserva 1985 Villa  Capezzana  Conte Contini Bonacossi I believe the wine was made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Canaiolo and 5% complimentary grapes. The wine was aged in for 24 months in botti of 23 hectoliters made from Slovenian oak and 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of violets, blueberries, cherries, tobacco and a hint of spice.

 I have been drinking Carmignano from Tenuta di Capezzana for over 40 years and it has always been one of my favorite wines.  The first time I understood the wine and how well it aged was when the late Count Ugo Bonacossi and his wife Contessa Lisa, the owners of the winery, came to dinner at my home. The year was 1985 and the Count brought a bottle of 1925 “Carmignano” which was labeled Chianti Montalbano.  The reason for the label was that Carmignano D.O.C. was not recognized until 1975, thanks to the efforts of Count Ugo, retroactive to 1969.

I was so caught up in enjoying these wonderful wines that I forgot to take a picture of the delicious roast chicken we enjoyed with it!


IMG_7806Blueberry Tart for dessert

I can’t thank Frank and Carole enough for this opportunity to drink these legendary wines perfectly matched with delicious meals.


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