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A deep, brooding, highly extracted wine, the 2001 Molettieri Irpinia Aglianico is more than a glass of wine; it's a meal as well. In the glass, the wine's saturated purple robe offers up exquisite scents of woodland truffles, anise, tar, and a sensual autumnal sweetness. On the palate, this Aglianico continues its gustatory assault with layer upon layer of black fruits, rose petal, tobacco, and subdued earth tones, and this is before the wine's culminating feat a long, dry finish that is imbued with ripe tannin and round subtle wood tones. The 2001 Moletierri Aglianico is, perhaps, best described as a tour de force in winemaking for the up and coming Irpinia DOC. Drink this full-bodied Aglianico moderately cool (about 65º F), after allowing it to breath for an hour or more. In an ideal world, one would have a bottle of this Irpinia on the table now and a case in the cellar to enjoy over the next few years.
Whether it is heart healthy Mediterranean fare or full-flavored meats and cheeses, the 2001 Molettieri Irpinia Aglianico is ready to please. It provides wonderful drinking with traditional southern Italian recipes, especially lentil and bean dishes like Pasta e Fagioli. Homemade pasta in a thick red tomato sauce, laden with plenty of garlic and olive oil, also provides a splendid backdrop to the Molettieri Aglianico. Grilled lamb is another excellent accompaniment and a traditional companion to Aglianico in the Campania. Genuine, aged Parmesan or Provolone cheese in the company of Molettieri's Aglianico offers yet another treat, particularly when used as a finale to a fine meal; yet, just about any full-throttle, highly flavored food will do well in the company of this noble red wine.
Aglianico is the only truly great red grape varietal in southern Italy. The noble Aglianico was first planted in Italy by the ancient Greeks who colonized southern Italy (Magna Graecia) around 700 BC. The name Aglianico itself is an Italianate distortion of Hellenico, meaning Greek. Aglianico is a superb varietal, perfectly suited to the Italian Campania, most especially the appellation of Taurasi and the surrounding province of Irpinia, both of which lie in the mountains just west of Naples. In the Campania, once known as the granary of Rome, Aglianico produces a great red wine that is the equal of any in Italy, including wines from the renowned Nebbiolo of Barolo and Barbaresco fame. The Molettieri estate comprises only seven hectares (about 15 acres) in Montemarano, historically one of the two finest crus of the appellation. This celebrated vineyard is situated at nearly 1700 feet in altitude. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the Campania's great Aglianico is grown between 1200 and 1800 feet in the volcanic soil of sequestered enclaves. Here perfect ripening occurs in the first week of November, yielding a wine of authority, power, and concentration. Typically, rich in polyphenols and extract and displaying a remarkably deep purple color, Salvatore Molettieri's Aglianico achieves absolute greatness with just a few years in bottle. Salvatore Molettieri, a man of exquisite generosity, produced his first estate-bottled wine in 1988. Subsequently, he has invested nearly all of the estate's profits back into the vineyard and cellar. In the production of his forceful, often intense wines, he makes no concessions. Molettieri's Taurasi and Irpinia Aglianico will never be mistaken for frivolous wines; rather, these potions are the endearing legacy of the ancient Campania.
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