Aglianico: Southern Italy’s Vinous Erotica

2008 Bisceglia, “Gudarra” Aglianico de Vulture, Bisilicata

Mount Vulture from Bisceglia's vineyards on the lower slopes.
Mount Vulture from Bisceglia’s vineyards on the lower slopes.

While Aglianico is not the grape on most people’s lips, it is one of tremendous complexity, exotic aromatics and perhaps to many people’s tastes a surplus of tannin. But well made Aglianico does not strip the enamel off your teeth, and reminds me of Cote Rotie when it is picked at 12.5% potential alcohol or less. with its peppery, floral aromas and flavors that are so expressive when the grape is not over-oaked, but the grapes structure is much more Barolo-like. Aglianico was brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks, at least 2500 years ago, and was the grape which made-up (possibly blended with the white grape Greco)

Aglianico has been planted in Campania and Basilicata since the 5th century BC
Aglianico has been planted in Campania and Basilicata since the 5th century BC

Falernian wine  which was cherished by the Roman patrician class, was made from Aglianico, where it was planted on the Campanian/Lazio volcano of Mount Falernus.  It was planted to the slopes of Vesuvius when that mountain top rained death on the inhabitants of Pompeii, and it was written about by Pliny, who most people think is a culty beer.

The regal Campanian wine Taurasi, is of made of Aglianico, Farmed again on the slopes of Vesuvius, this is the palace of Aglianico But Aglianico is also grown very successfully on the mid peninsula to the eastern coast on the Adriatic. This is Basilicata. Basilicata is definitely considered country, and it also tends to be hot, bordering on Puglia. But there is some fabulous Aglianico grown here, with several producers in del Vulture leading the charge.

“this is a wine (and varietal) that comes with no training wheels”

The winery is called the Bisceglia of Basilicata, but the firm is called Vulcano e Vini. Yes, wouldn’t one name be better? No matter, they are making fabulous wine from their organic farmed estate.

2008 Bisceglia Gudarra, Aglianico del Vulture (Review)imgres
Black purple in color. This wine has a super-exotic floral-pepper nose, with tuberose’s sweet spiciness, and geraniums green tenderness.  On the surface, the wine suggests under-ripeness. but then the deep black cherries, blackberries and raspberry fruit kicks in showing plenty ripe, richness, and finishes with a firm tar and a deep core full of licorice notes. This is a wine with lots of complex ying/yang complimentary features, leaving the wine with a tense balance fruit, acidity and tannins, giving it plenty of verve. On the finish, the exotic aromatics pick up again, never letting go of its split personality of being both aromatically floral and ripely fruity. The wine is linear and structured in the mouth, with some leanness along with a pleasant bitterness, but there is also more than enough fruit to offset the firm tannins. The acid is fairly soft, so there are no overly hard edges to dampen its moody black fruit. This is a wine, (and varietal) that comes with no training wheels,  but if you can ride this, it is truly remarkable find for under $25.  Score: a conservative 92 points. Emotionally I’d like to rate it higher. This is a sensational wine full of tremendous personality and vigor.


Lovers of Amarone, Blogger/Sommelier Marina Betto Has Something Worth Reading!

There are some really talented wine bloggers out there, often somewhere half a world away and you need to use the translator (if your French or Italian isn’t up to snuff.)  Here is an example of one such blog by Italian blogger Marina Betto, sommelier and writer for Italian Sommelier Association and on-line publications about gastronomy, botany and gardening. She collaborates on Glocal Vini & Terroir with Sommelier Massimo Sacco, from the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

Italian Wine Writer Marina Betto
Italian Wine Writer Marina Betto

 Vini & Terroir : Pianeta Amarone

Amarone, today, begins to have a certain appeal, especially on some Asian markets and in some areas of the U.S. market. Abroad is often associated with Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello.It ‘a modern wine that has ancient roots, produced in the Veneto region in the area of ​​Verona to Lake Garda to the west and north to Soave. This territory has always cultivated the vine and wine product, chasing quality; these valleys ancient heart (Valis Polis Cells) are, for centuries, an area of ​​wineries. We are located on the territories of high, medium and low hills, if not plain. The hillside vineyards are most suitable because without fog, which do not facilitate the quality of the grapes, the richest of the skeleton, calcareous, give more minerals, texture and fragrance. read more


My comments to Massimo’s post are below (with a little editing:)

“Marina, I really liked your post.  Even through the computer translation, it has a wonderful rhythm and great verbal illustration. You have terrific knowledge of the region and it really shows in your writing and discriptors.  Here are a couple of thoughts I have on the wines you write about; three of which I know fairly well. imgres

Masi is probably the most “wine-like” of all the Amarone’s I’ve had, generally being dryer and slightly less alcoholic, and no aldehydic or acetic qualities, being very clean and elegant. I sold Masi for nine years for a distributor, and I find it to be a very unique voice in the field of Amarone. They rarely get the scores they deserve because they are not as opulent as wine tasted next to them. They are however very beautiful with a tapestry of complex flavors and silky textures. This style trans

imagesBrigaldara is a wonderful producer, and he seems to be on his own path stylistically (at least from what is brought into the United States.) I get a tremendous breadth of flavors from him, from green tobacco notes through ripe blackberry and into raisin and prunes. His are a kaleidoscope of flavors, and the alcohol I never though was much of an issue. At least I don’t remember it being hot. I got the impression that he had clones that ripened unevenly, or he picked certain lots at different ripeness levels intentionally. The effect is brilliant whatever the reason. His are intellectual wines with an ungainly, nontraditional beauty.

image_1141755_full Bertani is a house I written up in one of my first blog posts (which you may have seen). Until I was able to experience a depth of Bertani Amarones in a flight together, I didn’t have a fair impression of them. Bertani is a big house, with lots of traditionally commercial wines, but their Amarone is traditional in the best way – it stands the test of time. Here Bertani stands out. Although their Amarone doesn’t have the body and density, and as the French say “gras” of other houses, they have a purity and complexity that won’t fade over time. Because they don’t grow and pick their grapes for extraction, and then bottle their Amarone after seven years in botte, which allows the wines an excess dry extract falls out before bottling, the wine that goes into the bottle will remain complex and stable in the bottle. But while this robs the wine in the near term of its mid-palate and makes a more acidic wine, it also allows the wine to age virtually unchanged for decades.  Beautiful stuff.

Accordini,which I’ve had a few times (and briefly sold them when they were imported by one of the suppliers we represented) I never could really wrap my head around them, stylistically.  They tended to be denser and blacker, with blackberry fruit and some earth, a bit more port-like (or even somewhat Priorat-like) is my recollection, than Amarone-like. They’ve been getting top notes from American critics recently, but although the quality is good, I’ve never really been drawn to them.” 

Thanks for a great post,