Aglianico is an ancient Greek black grape brought to the southern regions of Italy by Greek settlers. These days the grape is mostly found in Basilicata and Campania, while it has almost completely disappeared in the country it originated from.
In Basilicata the Aglianico grape is primarily used in the province of Potenza to produce the region’s only DOCG wine; Aglianico del Vulture. The most important production area of Aglianico del Vulture is, as the name suggests, around the extinct Vulture volcano. Wine obtained from the vineyards situated on the slopes of the volcano are regarded as more elegant and of higher quality.
Despite mostly producing high quality wines, many small producers in Basilicata have been forced to sell their vineyards due to the economical crisis. As a result, there are only a few very good natural wine producers left to continue the production of this traditional wine.
In the neighbouring region of Campania the situation is different. Things are moving forward and the number of producers who are continuing the ancient art of winemaking is increasing.
The area surrounding the village of Taurasi is home to DOCG wines of the same name. It’s in this area that historical vineyards can still be found and thrive. All the historical vines have been analysed recently and the samples tested proved that many of the vines were over 200 years old while some of them have even surpassed the 300 years mark.
The ageing potential of the wines made with Aglianico grapes is impressive. Considered to be the cousin of Nebbiolo, the wines produced from Aglianico grapes are full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity.
Like a true southerner, the Aglianico vine thrives in dry climates which receive generous amounts of sunshine. The grape has a tendency to ripen late with harvests taking place as late as mid November. If the grape is picked too early, or with excessive yields, it can be aggressively tannic.
When Aglianico wines are still young they are very tannic and concentrated, and they require a few years of ageing before becoming approachable. As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced with the rest of the wine.