I read an article recently in the New York times on wine made from the Aglianico grape. I am so glad that this grape and its region is being noted for the delicious wine it produces. Famous oenologist Denis Dubourdieu has said "Aglianico is probably the grape with the longest consumer history of all."
What’s very cool is that Aglianico is thought to have first been cultivated in Greece by the Phoceans from an ancestral vine and was brought into Italy by settlers spread to various points in the regions of Campania and Basilicata. In ancient Rome, the grape was the principal component of the world's earliest first-growth wine, a wine called Falernian. Gladiator wine!
In its youth, Aglianico is can be very tannic and concentrated and powerful requiring a few years of ageing before it can be totally approachable. It’s deep garnet in color with whiffs of chocolate, earth and plums.
But big wine is great; I like it and seek it. As Aglianico ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more composed with the rest of the wine. Think full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, providing them with good aging potential. It’s can be very not-aggressive. The rich flavors of the wine make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats such as lamb, beef or a rich pasta dish. The grape is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot too.
So for you drinkers of Barolo, Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet and good Rhone. This is where it’s at.
…by the way the white grape is called as Greco di Tufo, the grape was commented on by influential Pliny the Elder, the maker of some of the highest-ranked wines in Roman times and also author, naturalist, and natural philosopher
There are write ups on all this in Hugh Johnson’s wine books as well as Oz Clarke’s which is always a great read. You can re-read those guys, good stuff. Good wine books to own for entertainment and research.
Anyways, in Basilicata, Aglianico is where the region's only DOCG wine, Aglianico del Vulture, and is concentrated in the northern area of the province of Potenza. The most sought-after of Aglianico del Vulture come from the vineyards located in and around the extinct volcano Mount Vulture.
In Campania (the third-most-populous region of Italy...extremely historical), the area in and around the village of Taurasi produces Aglianico's only DOCG wine, also called Taurasi.
There’s more great Aglianico to be had in the province of Benevento. In Campania, it is also in grape of Aglianico del Taburno and Falerno del Massico.
So Where are the best places? Aglianico seems to thrive in volcanic soils, especially at higher elevations on hillsides that also have some limestone mixed in. That’s a great scenario for a hearty wine.
It really all adds up to the profile for greatness. So seek it out. Ask for it.
The wines can be both powerful and restrained, they can age beautifully, and they can be both soulful and reflective, deep especially when grown in the best places and produced by dedicated wine makers.