Tasting Overview: Aglianico is together with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese one of the three main varietals of Italy. The aim in this tasting of the varietal program is to assess and discuss the character and properties of this less known varietal and the style of wines it produces.
Type of Tasting: Open
Wine presenters: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz
The reference wine is:
The presenters recommended another wine for comparison or as a substitute in case the Guaddra is in short supply
The menu is up to each participant discretion
Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Alberto Gómez, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta.
Information on the Reference Wine
(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .
2015 Gudarra, Aglianico del Vulture, Azienda Bisceglia, Basilicata, Italy
The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Gudarrà is deep ruby-red in color with violet hues and enticing notes of red cherries, cassis, blackberries, and sweet spice. On the palate, balanced tannins and integrated alcohol make for an elegantly smooth wine that is truly “to be enjoyed.” Pair this wine with roasted game, spicy tomato-based sauces, southern Italian pasta dishes, and slow-cooked beef stews.
RP: You get terrific value with this red wine from Southern Italy. The fruit in this warm vintage comes together with precision and balanced intensity. The 2015 Aglianico del Vulture Gudarrà is a generous and opulent expression with a thick layer of black fruit. In addition, you get delicate and territorial notes of campfire ash and exotic spice. This is a contemporary expression from a deeply traditional wine region. On the finish, you get touches of black olive and grilled herb.
The Winery: (From Wine.com) The Bisceglia estate is situated on the lower slopes of the extinct volcano, Mount Vulture, in the splendid district of Lavello. This old farming community is officially recognized as “Wine Town” in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy. The winery itself was designed by internationally acclaimed architects Hikaru Mori and Domenico Santomauro, and has state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and aging cellars. The estate extends over pristine hillsides rich in flora and fauna, characterized by a Mediterranean mesoclimate. A natural balance of temperature shifts characterizes this terroir, conferring remarkable fertility to calcareous and clay loam soils. Bisceglia comprises forty hectares of vines in the heart of the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG appellation, which include local varieties – Aglianico, Moscato and Fiano – as well as a selection of international vine varieties.
Read more about the winery here: http://www.vinibisceglia.it/en/
The Region: Notes taken from Wine-Searcher.com – Basilicata, in southern Italy, is a region whose name crops up only very rarely in wine circles. It is best known for red wines from the Aglianico variety, and in particular the Aglianico del Vulture appellation. It is home to just four DOCs, which collectively cover only two bottles in every hundred produced here. The remaining 98 percent is sold either under IGT titles or – more likely – Vino da Tavola. Compared to other Italian wine regions, total wine production in here is very small at less than 50 million liters. Basilicata’s 10,000 square kilometers (3860 square miles) of land are bordered to the north by Campania and Puglia and to the south by Calabria. Predominantly landlocked, with the Ionian Sea on one side and the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other, it features stunning mountain and hill ranges. In fact it is one of the most mountainous regions in Italy, with around 47 percent mountains and a further 45 percent hills. Only 8 percent of the surface area is classified as being flat. The three main peaks dotted across the region are Monte Pollino at 2238m (7375ft), Monte Sirino at 2005m (6578ft) and the extinct volcano Monte Vulture at 1326m (4350ft).
The main area for viticulture lies in the heart of the fertile Vulture Massif in the north. Vineyards are located around Mount Vulture on volcanic soils. The mountainous terrain and harsh weather makes vine-growing a challenge. But the area still enjoys an abundance of sunshine throughout the growing season and cool temperatures around harvest, thanks to climatic variations. Cool Balkan breezes, travelling across the Adriatic and Puglia, help moderate the temperatures. In addition, the Apennines create a barrier to the mild currents from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. In this hilly territory the local variety, Aglianico del Vulture, reigns, producing quality wines which exhibit fine aromas and flavors.
Winemaking in Basilicata dates back over a thousand years. In central and northern Italy it was the Etruscans and Romans who pioneered local winemaking. However, in the south this task was largely undertaken by seafaring Greeks. Basilicata was also influenced by the Byzantines, who ruled the area during two distinct periods in both the 6th and 9th Centuries. They gave the region its current name (from the Greek basilikos, meaning prince and governor). Aglianico has the leading wine grape variety here for many centuries. Recent theories suggest it was introduced (known as vino de llanos, or “wine of the plains”) under Aragonese rule during the late Middle Ages.
Compiled by Jairo Sánchez
Aglianico is a dark-skinned top-quality Southern Italy grape variety. For long it was thought to be of Greek origin although DNA profiling has failed to find a relationship with any Greek variety. It retained the name Ellenico until the end of the 15th century, when it took the current name of Aglianico. First Planted around the Greek colony of Cumae, this early-budding vine variety is cultivated mainly in the mountainous center of Italy’s south, mostly in the provinces of Avelino and Benevento in Campania, and in the provinces of Potenza and Matera in Basilicata. It is found also in small quantities in Calabria, in Puglia, Molise, and in the island of Procida near Naples. Italy total Plantings were 25.000 acres in 2010. The vine can ripen so late even this far south that grapes may be picked in November. Attempts to pick it earlier, or increase yields, invariably lead to a failure to tame its rather ferocious tannins. Aglianico seems to prefer soils of volcanic origin and achieves its finest in the two DOCs of Taurasi in Campania and Aglianico del Vulture in Basilicata where elevations are lower and the wines rather softer and earlier maturing.
Aglianico is considered with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo to be one of the three greatest Italian varieties. Aglianico is sometimes called “The Barolo of the South” due to its ability to produce highly refined, complex fine wines like the famous Piedmont wine, Barolo.
History: Oenologist Denis Dubourdieu has said “Aglianico is probably the grape with the longest consumer history of all”, claiming that Aglianico was used to make the Falernian wine famed during Roman times. Along with the white grape Greco (today known as Greco di Tufo), the red grape of the region was regarded favorably by Pliny the Elder. Traces of the vine have been found in Molise, Apulia, and also on the island of Procida near Naples,.
Wine Regions. In Basilicata, Aglianico is the basis of the Aglianico del Vulture DOC and the region’s only DOCG wine, Aglianico del Vulture Superiore, concentrated in the northern area of the province of Potenza. The most sought-after productions come from the vineyards located in and around the extinct volcano Mount Vulture. In Campania, the area in and around the village of Taurasi in the Province of Avellino and the area around the Monte del Taburno in the Province of Benevento produce Aglianico wines bearing the DOCG designation. Taurasi was designated DOCG in 1993, and Aglianico del Taburno in 2011. More Aglianico can be found in the province of Caserta, as the principal grape of Falerno del Massico.
The grape has also recently been planted in Australia and California, as it thrives in predominantly sunny climates with a long ripening season. In Australia it is being introduced in the Murray Darling region with some success. Producers in McLaren Vale, Margaret River, Mudgee and Riverland are also experimenting with plantings. Elsewhere in North America, it has been trialed in Texas and Arizona, and in Ontario, Canada.
Viticulture: The Aglianico vine buds early and grows best in dry climates with generous amounts of sunshine. It has good resistance to outbreaks of powdery mildew, but has low resistance to botrytis. Since it is too tannic to make a worthwhile dessert wine, the presence of this noble rot in the vineyard is more of a viticultural hazard than an advantage. The grape tends to ripen late, with harvests as late as November in some parts of southern Italy. If the grape is picked too early, or with excessive yields, the grape can be aggressively tannic. The vine seems to thrive in particularly volcanic soils.
Wine styles: Aglianico’s best wines are deep in color with full chocolate and plum aromas, fine-grained tannins and marked acidity on the palate. Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential. The rich flavors of the wine make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats such as lamb. In Campania, the grape is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the production of some Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines. In its youth, Aglianico is very tannic and concentrated, requiring a few years of ageing before it can be approachable. As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced with the rest of the wine. The trademark coloring of the wine is a deep garnet. In well made examples of the wine, it can have chocolate and plum aromas.
Aglianico del Vulture is a potentially superior wine, one of the handful in Basilicata, based on the tannic and age worthy. The DOC zone consists of close to 1000 acres, all on soils of volcanic origins in the northwest of the zone and benefiting from cool nights at 600 mt. The area was given its own DOC as early as 1971, as the Superiore and Riserva versions of the wines were elevated DOCG in 2010. Minimum vine density for both DOC and DOCG is as low as 3350 plants/ha while the high permitted yields of 10 tons/ha for the DOC is lowered to 8 ton/ha for DOCG. Legal ageing for DOC version is one year and while DOCG requires 24 months of ageing, of which 12 must be in oak.
Aglianico Wines Profile
Acidity: Medium High
Alcohol: Medium to High
Flavors: Aglianico: White Pepper, Black Cherry, Smoke, Game, Spiced Plum
Aglianico del Vulture: Blackberry sauce, Licorice, Smoke
A savory wine like Aglianico goes well with gamey dishes or even Texas style barbecue.
Recommended Video on Aglianico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oFGe7DM5-8&list=WL
Sources: Wine Folly, The Master Guide Magnum Edition, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson and Wikipedia.