Aglianico wine grape
A highly tannic and acidic but very fragrant black variety, Aglianico is the grape of Taurasi and Aglianico del Vulture, which are regarded as southern Italy’s best and most ageworthy reds. It buds early, making it susceptible to frost damage, and ripens very late, sometimes being picked into November. Accordingly it can’t really be grown further north than its heartlands in
, otherwise its ferocious tannins don’t soften.
It’s an ancient variety, although how ancient is a matter of debate. The conventional view is that it used to be called Ellenico (‘Hellenic’ i.e. Greek) and was introduced by the Ancient Greeks when they colonised Italy’s southwestern coast around six centuries BC. It was later used to make the most famed wine of ancient Rome, Falernum, which came from the slopes of Mount Falernus in Campania where Aglianico grows to this day.
However, the bible of such matters, the monumental
, disagrees completely, pointing out that: Falernum was a white wine; you can’t linguistically derive Aglianico from Ellenico in Italian; the Romans used
to mean Greek and not
, which wasn’t coined until the Renaissance; and DNA analysis shows that Aglianico has many relatives in Campania and Basilicata but none in Greece. The first written mention of Aglianico dates from 1520, and
suggests that the name is derived from the Spanish
meaning ‘plain’ and means “the grape from the plain” because the Spanish Aragon Empire ruled southern Italy at the time.
It yields concentrated wines with high levels of acidity and tannin that improve with age. Indeed they usually require years in barrel and bottle to soften into drinkability. This, combined with its dried fruit flavours and a bouquet that often has a hint of Nebbiolo-esque tar and roses about it, has led to it being called the “Barolo of the south”. But though there are undoubted similarities, there are also differences. Aglianico wines have darker fruits and much darker colour, are more herby and even fuller-bodied than Nebbiolos like Barolo.
Decanting Club wines containing: Aglianico
From Basilicata, Italy
Re Manfredi, Aglianico del Vulture
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