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Details for Re Manfredi, Aglianico del Vulture

AppellationAglianico del Vulture DOC
Terre degli Svevi
(click to find out more)


Basilicata, outlined on our map, forms the ankle of Italy’s boot.  Rural, poverty-stricken and underpopulated, it’s oddly inert in wine terms especially when compared to the winemaking ferment going on in neighbouring Puglia (the heel) and Campania (the lower shin), although Calabria (the fore-foot) is also stuck in the doldrums.  Less than 0.2% of Italy’s wine comes from Basilicata.  For decades Aglianico del Vulture was its only DOC, and today is its only DOCG.
Still, if you’re only going to have the one DOC(G), you could do a lot worse than Aglianico del Vulture, which vies with Campania’s Taurasi for the title of southern Italy’s best red appellation.  Both are made from Aglianico, a fragrant, fearsomely acidic and tannic grape that ripens so late it can’t be grown further north, and whose wines have been described as “the Barolos of the south”.
But outside Vulture’s north-eastern corner, there’s not a lot going on in Basilicata.  The other three DOCs Matera, Grottino di Roccanova and Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri are hardly household names and are rarely seen outside Italy… or even outside Basilicata.  And in marked contrast to the flood of interesting, good-value wines sold as IGP Puglia, IGP Basilicata is mostly used by Vulture producers for wines that don’t meet the DOC rules, usually by being made from grapes other than Aglianico.

Terre degli Svevi

This producer from Venosa in the Basilicata region of southern Italy is rather better known by its brandname Re Manfredi (“King Manfred”).  Son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Manfred was born in Venosa and was King of Sicily during the mid-13th Century.  (At that time the Kingdom included Basilicata and most of southern Italy.)  Re Manfredi wine labels all feature his decidedly Germanic coat of arms with its imperial black eagle: he and his father belonged to the Hohenstaufen dynasty from Swabia in southern Germany.  Terre degli Svevi actually means Lands of the Swabians.
The winery was founded in 1998 by Nunzio Capurso, who was previously Managing Director of the well-known Chianti producer, Melini.  Both are part of the giant GIV (Gruppo Italiano Vini) conglomerate that also includes Bolla in Veneto and Fontana Candida in Lazio.
Aglianico del Vulture is the main focus here, with both a regular bottling and a premium single-vineyard wine called Serpara.  Both have won the prestigious Tre Bicchieri award multiple times.  There is also a entry-level version produced by the Taglio del Tralcio (“Cutting the Cane”) method to part-dry the grapes on the vine, producing a smoother wine designed to be more approachable young.  The range is rounded out by an Aglianico Rosato and a white from an unusual (but appropriately Germanic) blend of Müller-Thurgau and Traminer.

about this wine About this wine

The Re Manfredi vineyards are situated in the eastern foothills of Mount Vulture, the extinct volcano that gives its name to the Aglianico del Vulture DOC.  The vineyards that contribute to this wine are planted on volcanic soils in the commune of Venosa, close to the winery itself.  Altitude is regarded as so important for this grape that DOC rules mandate an altitude range of 200 to 700 metres; wine from higher or lower vineyards is not allowed to call itself Aglianico del Vulture.  At 420 metres, these vines are right in the sweet spot.
The vineyard is divided into two parts: 30 hectares was planted 20 years ago at 3000 vines/ha using Guyot pruning, while a further 22 ha was planted 10 years ago at an even higher density of 5000 vines/ha and is cordon-pruned.  These high densities and the training systems employed act to reduce yields and so increase concentration.  All the vines use phylloxera-resistant 430A rootstock, but the Aglianico cuttings grafted onto those roots are selections from long-established local vines, rather than one particular clone from a nursery.
2012 was a good vintage in the region, with a snowy winter and very wet spring that replenished the water table before a particularly hot, dry summer.  The spring rains reduced yields a little, but that acted to increase concentration.  The healthy grapes were hand-harvested during the second half of October, which is normal for the very late-ripening Aglianico.
After destemming and crushing, the grapes underwent cold maceration at 5°C for 10 days to extract aroma and flavour from the skins, before being fermented between 26°C (at first) and 22°C (at the end) for 7 to 10 days with daily pumpovers.  The wine then underwent full malolactic fermentation (normal for reds, but particularly important for Aglianico to soften its high acidity) before being aged in small French oak barriques for 10 to 12 months, depending on the age of the wood.  Barrel age ranges from new to four years old.

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