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Delta of Venusio

[vineyard]Cantina di Venosa 1999 Aglianico del Vulture “Carato Venusio” (Basilicata) – It’s not always clear with aglianico at which point in the wine’s maturity you have encountered it, because the structure and the “fruit,” which can seem to work at cross-purposes even at the best of times, mature in ways that are largely unlike other, more familiar, grapes. One must be prepared for a certain rusticity and no lack of scraping aggression, usually from the tannin…at which point, one will usually encounter one of those beautiful, fully-resolved, almost “elegant” (for aglianico) bottles that defies all expectations. Here, however, is something a little more standard. The fruit’s reddish, thinning, and drying, but still appealing if one is willing to embrace fruit-as-dust, while the tannin lingers and scrapes, and still-emerging acidity begins to add its own warbling treble descant. It’s appealing, but the appeal is predicated on a disposition to like wines of this type. Drink now? I guess. (3/09)

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Cantina di Venosa 2004 “Terre di Orazio” Dry Muscat (Basilicata) – This doesn’t work for me at all. It feels like one of those fortified southern French muscats, except that the fortification has replaced the muscat, leaving the wine (which is not fortified) bereft of the necessary aromatics. Smells, tastes, and finishes like lead. (3/09)