Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Wine Grape: Aglianico

Aglianico Wine GrapeItaly may be best known for Sangiovese, the base grape of some of the country’s greatest wines, such as Chianti and Brunello. Rivaling Sangiovese is Nebbiolo, the fruit producing Barolo and Barbaresco. A third, lesser-known (at least, outside of Italy) yet just as supreme grape is Aglianico (ahl-YAHN-eh-koe).

Grown primarily in the southern part of Italy, it does best in hot climates and volcanic soils. The grape ripens late in the harvest, and if done right will produce wines that are inky black, with firm-to-huge tannins, and a powerful structure that benefits from 5-10 years or more of cellaring. Common characteristics of Aglianico wine include a smooth, rich, texture and aromas and flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate, coffee, leather, smoke, and mineral. In other words, pretty complex. While traditional / old-school Aglianico wines tend to be too harsh and bold when young, many wineries are employing modern techniques to produce examples that are ready to drink upon release.

Aglianico is an important grape in the Campania region, where it is the main ingredient in Taurasi. You may have never heard of Taurasi, but it is well worth picking up if you come across it. Aglianico also grows in the south-adjoining region of Basilicata, producing world-class wines called Aglianico del Vulture (don’t say it like the bird; it’s properly pronounced as vull-TORE-ay).

Why go through all the bother of hunting down these hard-to-find, impossible-to-say, unusual wines? Three reasons: first, the quality is just as good as (maybe better than) Italy’s best wines; second, many examples are enjoyable to drink right now (as opposed to sticking the wine in a cellar for 10 years); and third, you can find affordable bottles. Personally, I like the affordable part, especially when I’m staring at a shelf full of Barolos and Barbarescos that START at 80 bucks or more.

In fact, some outstanding Aglianicos can be had for about half that price. But before you plunk down a pair of twenties, you can taste an introductory example for less than 10 bucks: Ars Poetica “Vulcano” (review coming in a few days), which is ready to drink now with burgers and steaks. Other brands to look for include Tenuta le Querce, Sasso, Di Majo Norante, Terredora di Paolo, Cantina del Taburno, Feudi di San Gregorio, and Caputo.

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Comments

  1. other brands: Mastroberardino for Taurasi, D’Angelo for Aglianico del Vulture.

    I’m a huge fan of Aglianico too, even if I live in Asti, city of the best Barbera and 25 minutes from Barbaresco and Barolo lands

  2. bigwinesnob says:

    hey boss, since you’re in Asti, can you tell us anything about how this year’s grapes are doing in your area? how about the recent vintages of Barbera and Dolcetto ?

  3. Hey Joe, was looking for tasting notes on the Agliantico came across your page. Your descriptors are well written and conceived. Thanks

  4. But there is also another type of Aglianico in Campania, the Aglianico of Tarburno defined by many as the Barolo of Southern Italy. Red wine of great tradition, must wait at least two years (three for the reserve) before being sold, was born in the middle of the Sannio, a territory outside the circuits of mass tourism and because of this rich landscape of discoveries, monuments and mainly characterized by an incredible food and agricultural biodiversity. This is also why it still has a good relationship between quality and price by offering the possibility of doing business now as a few other Italian areas.

  5. Vini Nobilis is another really great Campania producer available in the US. http://www.onthewaytrading has a great deals online. Not all states are available for the direct delivery. Really great Campania wines at incredible prices.

  6. The wonderful Vini Nobilis wines from Campania are now being distributed in IA, MA, MS, SC and TX. More states to follow. Go to http://www.lyonwineimports.com for more information.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] This is a 100% Aglianico, the second wine of Ars Poetica’s trademark Aglianico del Vulture. A remarkable value, it has the flavor, body, complexity, structure, and finish of a Super Tuscan in the $30-45 range. [...]

  2. [...] is unique for its architecture and its food.  The regional Aglianico and Primitivo wines, the Matera bread, the Senise dried peppers, Lucanica sausages, the lamb [...]

  3. [...] get the fullness of the grape’s complex flavors on your wine rack, consider paying the price. Notes include chocolate, coffee and leather. Modern techniques are helping to bring ready-to-drink wines [...]

  4. [...] Aglianico – Aglianico is the name of a black grape from the south of Italy that produces a deeply hued and intensely flavored red wine.  Two to look for are Aglianico del Vulture and Taurasi. These wines have yet to attract widespread attention, but it is only a matter of time. [...]

  5. […] is a grape many of us don’t see or drink much. Check out this great article on […]

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