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Azienda Agricola Michele Perillo

Azienda Agricola Michele Perillo

Michele Perillo’s house in the countryside outside the village of Castelfranci looks like many others in the mountains. Indeed, if you did not know, you would not suspect there was a winery there at all. But there is, and a little bit of magic and a huge amount of patience produces fabulous award-winning wines. The vineyards are at an altitude of around 500m above sea level. At this height the climate is continental, with the long hot summers that are necessary to allow the Aglianico grapes to mature before they are harvested in November. In the winter you can expect snow. Total production is a modest 20,000 bottles  from 4.5 hectares. 

This is true family business ( Michele works with his wife, Anna Marie, and his two children, Felice, an oenologist, and Nicola, who is finishing a degree in agronomy. The founder was Michele’s grandfather who planted most of the vines in the 1920s when he returned from the First World War, so these are now over 90 years old.

They produce a white wine from the local grape Coda di Volpe or Fox’s Tail but I was here for the red DOCG wine called Taurasi that Michele prepares with such care from his Aglianico vines. The Aglianico grown here has its own name, coda di cavallo, so called because of the thin sparse bunches with small fruit that it produces. This means that some years yields can be as low as 3,000kg per hectare. This is a grape with strong tannins and so needs long careful maturation and, in Michele’s hands, that is precisely what it gets. His Taurasi spends 18 months in botti of Slovenian oak, but that is only the beginning for, after that, they are returned to the steel containers and held for about another 9 years before being bottled. In other words, Michele is just releasing his 2009 Taurasi at the moment.

In colour it is a rich deep garnet as befits a wine of its age made from 100% Aglianico. The bouquet is full with cherries and plums and a whiff of cigars. On the palate the tannins have softened and balance nicely with the acidity. There is also a note of warmth from the alcohol.

I also sampled the 2008 Riserva which has spent two years in botti before returning to the tanks to allow the tannins to mature and the results are spectacular. The colour is the rich deep garnet as in the 2009 but the nose is more complex; there are plums and cherries and tobacco but also leather – think beautiful old books – and a hint of oranges. On the palate there is bitter cherry with good acidity and soft tannins. These are wines with an aging potential of at least 30 years; enjoy them with the strong flavours of wild game or meat from the barbecue.

When we met Michele he was gracious and happy to show us around his little winery with its precious contents even though he was due to set off at eleven o’clock that evening for an overnight drive to Milan to collect yet another prize for his Taurasi. We eventually left clutching bunches of dried peppers, a gift from Anna Maria, grapes from the garden, and a bottle of the Riserva wine – it had been a wonderful visit and we look forward to visiting again next year.

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