What is Aglianico Wine?
Aglianico is a black grape that is native to Southern Italy. It is considered one of Italy’s most important varieties and is often made into single-varietal wines. Aglianico wine is a red wine that is full-bodied and is found specifically in the regions of Basilicata and Campania, Southern Italy. These wines are known for their strikingly savory flavors of white pepper, leather, black fruits, white pepper, and cured meat that when aged, develop soft dusty aromas of sun-tanned leather and dried figs. Its structure is full-bodied, high tannin, high acidity, and medium to medium-plus alcohol. Aglianico grapes are hardy and survive in drought conditions that make them an appealing option for producing wine regions suffering the effects of climate change. The real magic of Aglianico appears to be patient as these wines don’t start into their best taste until 10 or more years of age. As the time comes by, it softens the wine’s enamel-removing acidity and firm tannic structure revealing lush layers of dried floral aromas and sweetened fruit intermixed with spiced smoke and dusty savory flavors.
The History of Aglianico Wine
The origins of both its name and the vine itself are unclear. The origin of Aglianico could be in Greek or Etruscan, hence its name Hellenic with which it was called which believed had arrived with the first Greek colonists who founded Cuma. This could be part of the large Aminea family that is referred to as Pliny which was originated in Spain and arrived in Naples kingdom with the Aragonese. So it is thought that the vine was originated in Greece that was first cultivated by Phocians and was then brought to Cumae by Greek settlers in the 8tch century BC and from there it spread into the southern regions of Italy. Its parentage also remains unknown which implies that it is likely to be endemic to its region. The name first appeared in print as Aglianiche as the feminine plural in 1520, and more etymological theories persist. The name might be a corruption of Vitis hellenica which is a Latin phrase for Greek vine, or of Apulianicum as the Latin name for the whole of southern Italy in ancient Rome time.
Its Flavor Profile
If you are lacking in any kind of sweet tooth, this is the perfect wine for you. The most notable taste of this wine is its pronounced savory notes. Expect to have hints of smoked and cured meats, pepper, and game along with sweeter notes such as plums, black cherry, and tart berries. This wine is full-bodied with a high amount of tannins to match its robust savory notes. This is also very acidic which is a quality that adds to its salty appeal. While younger Aglianico bottles have their intense appeal, the process of aging brings out the best of this wine. It is aged for at least 10 years to develop a more balanced mix of salty and sweet flavors.
It is a vine that needs wind, suffers from the heat, the tops of the hills, and mild winters. It’s not easy to produce this kind of wine, especially for its aggressiveness. From Aglianico, you will get sugary, tannic, very acidic, and structured wines that need to undergo a long process of refinement to smooth the edges and transform their thickness into elegance and finesse. For those who have enough patience, this is a wine that offers evolved, unique emotions, full of complex tertiary and ethereal aromas, and mature elegance that was all framed by appealing tannins. Aging in wood is normally carried out in large oak barrels but the use of bark is also common that will certainly more intrusive like perfumes. But all of this extract process must be tamed in one way or another and the process becomes faster with the use of barriques because of its greater oxygenation.
The Common Wine Color
When young, the color of the wine is purple but over the years it tends to ruby and then to garnet with some orange reflections. Color is a key to understanding what you are drinking. An Aglianico drunk young is a crime.
Its Food Pairing
The structure of this wine ends upbringing benefit for high-intensity food pairings. Full-bodied with a punchy savory flavor, this wine seems tailor-made for different food pairings. A pairing of Aglianico with smoky barbeque is a perfect match made in heaven. Its high acidity will bring out the flavors of the sauce of barbeque. Its meaty notes are the best match for several rich types of meat such as venison, prime rib, oxtail, and rabbit. If you are a vegetarian, hone in on flavors with rich umami notes like soy sauce, black bean sauce, dishes, or tempeh that welcome roasted mushrooms. Focus on dishes that can match its saltiness when it comes to vegetables. Black Beans, black-eyed peas, Portobello mushrooms steaks, tempeh, lentils, roasted mushrooms, baked beans, crispy kale, purple potatoes, roasted purple cauliflower, arugula, and kale are all ideal pairings. Salty cheeses like asiago, pecorino, cheddar, grana Padano, Monterey Jack, and provolone pair well with this wine.
Different Flavors and Aromas
Its flavors and aromas are white pepper, black cherry, cracked peppercorn, blackberry bramble, blueberry, dried cranberry, black plum, dried raspberry, black truffle, wild strawberry, potting soil, mushroom broth, underbrush, cured meat, smoked meat, game, leather, smoke, nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon, cedar, ash, cigar box, tobacco, incense, coffee, tar, licorice, dried roses, and dried oregano.
Regional Common Aglianico Wines
While Aglianico is being planted in various southern regions in Italy, it is the focus of just two and these are in Basilicata and Campania. Within these areas, 3 production zones have the highest tier Italian wine classification or DOCG. Each of these regions has a different expression of wine but its volcanic soils are what ties them all together.
Wine: Minimum of 85% Aglianico (if blended, another Campanian native with Piedirosso)
Expect to spend: $25 to $90. The most critically rated of this type of wine comes from the Taurasi region. Most collectors of this wine will agree that Taurasi delivers the most floral expression of the wine having brooding aromas of sour cherries and rose. This wine is also the least approachable upon release having the most needing at least an 8-year cooldown period to account for ripping grippy tannins and high acidity.
Aglianico del Taburno
Wine: 100% Aglianico
Expect to Spend: $15 to $50. More berry, plum, and spiced expressions of Aglianico with an earthiness in the realm of espresso or coffee and bold fine-grained tannins.
The Aglianico vine buds early and grows best in climates that are dry having enough amounts of sunshine. It has good resistance to outbreaks of oidium but this can be very susceptible to Peronospora. It has low resistance to botrytis but since it’s too tannic to make a worthwhile dessert wine, the presence of this noble rot found in the vineyard is more of a viticultural hazard than being an advantage. The grape tends that it will ripen late with harvests as last as November in some southern parts of Italy. If the grape is being picked too early or with excessive yields, the harvested grape can be very aggressively tannic. The grapevine will thrive particularly in volcanic soils.
Its Wine Styles
Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with high acidity and firm tannins, endowing them with the best aging potential. Its rich flavors make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats like lambs. In Campania, the grape is sometimes being blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the production of some Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines. In its youth, Aglianico is very concentrated and tannic that requires a few years of aging before it can be approachable. As years go by, the tannins become more balanced with the rest of the wine and the fruit becomes more pronounced. The trademark coloring of this wine is deep garnet. In well-made examples of wine, it can have plum and chocolate aromas.
Most Popular Aglianico Wines
- Mastroberardino Radici Riserva, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Mastroberardino Radici, Taurasi, DOCG, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi DOCG, Campania, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio Piano di Montevergine Riserva, Taurasi, DOCG, Italy
- Elena Fucci TItolo Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Rosso Irpinia, Campania, Italy
- Nativ ‘Eremo San Quirico’ Aglianico Irpinia Campi Taurasini, Campania, Italy
- Villa Matilde Rocca dei Leoni Aglianico della Campania IGT, Italy
- Salvatore Molettieri Vigna Cinque Querce, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Mastroberardino Naturalis Historia, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
Best Aglianico Wines
- Quintodecimo Vigna Grande Cerzito, Tuarasi Riserva DOCG, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio Piano di Montevergine Riserva, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Paternoster Don Anselmo Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, Italy
- Mastroberardino Radici Antonio, Taurasi Riserva DOCG, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio ‘Feudi Studi’ Rosamilia, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Feudi di San Gregorio ‘Feudi Studi’ Candriano, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Salvatore Molettieri Vigna Cinque Querce, Taurasi DOCG, Italy
- Quintodecimo Terra d’Eclano Aglianico Irpinia, Campania, Italy
- Mastroberardino ‘Stilema’ Taurasi DOCG, Campania, Italy