The Aglianico Grape in Campania

Aglianico is an ancient grape variety. It was first cultivated by the Phoenicians and later brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks 3,000 years ago when they colonized the area.  In Italy, Aglianico was first planted near modern day Pozzuoli and from there it spread to other parts of Campania. Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) wrote about it in his Natural History. Wine made from Aglianico was called Falernian and was highly regarded by the Romans    The Aglianico grape was known as Elenico (Italian for Greek) until the 15 Century when it began to be called Aglianico. The name might also come from vita hellenica, Latin for Greek wine. The debate still goes on.

The Aglianico grape prefers volcanic soil and grows at altitudes of 300 to 500 meters. Aglianico is also used as a blending grape in Campania. It does very well in Irpinia, in the provinces of Avelliino, Bevevento and Taburno.

Aglianico reaches its highest expression in the form of Taurasi, one of Italy’s great red wines, which can age for many years. In fact there are many who believe that the three great grape varieties in Italy are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico. Wines made from the Aglianico grape are full-bodied with good fruit, tannins, and hints of blackberries, leather and smoke.

Wines tasted at the Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch on October 1, 2014IMG_6188

Aglianico Sannio Benvenuto “Janare 2012 I00% Aglianico La Guardiense. This is one of the largest agricultural cooperatives in Italy. The farmers that grow the grapes directly manage more then 1,500 hectares of vineyards that are at 350 meters. This wine is part of the Janare project for the perseveration of indigenous grape varieties in Campania. It is intended primarily to safeguard and improve local grape varieties especially Aglianico and Falanghina. The wine has hints of violets, cherry and a slight hint of vanilla, which comes from the barriques. IMG_6189

Irpinia Aglianico Redimore 2012 DOC 100% Aglianico from the Mirabella Eclano vineyards Mastoberardino. The soil is sandy clay with a deep presence of traces of limestone in the entire area. The vines are nine years old and the vineyard is at 400 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of October. Classic red wine vinification, long maceration on the skins at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 12 months in French barriques and for six months in bottle before release. There are aromas and flavors of red fruit, hints of strawberries, spice and a touch of tobacco. $25IMG_6190

Taurasi 2010 Antico Castello 100% Aglianico from artisanal vineyards, selected from the Sant’Agata locality, the soil is mostly clay and limestone, the vineyard is at 450 meters and the exposure is southeast. They only grow native grape varieties. The grapes are picked by hand in the beginning of November. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and lasts for   three months. The wine is aged in large French oak casks for 18 months and then in bottle before release. IMG_6191

Taurasi 2009 “Contrade di Taurasi” 100% Aglianico Azienda Agricola Cantine Lonardo. The soil is of medium mixture with a strong presence of sedimentary rock composed mostly of volcanic ash, dry and rich in organic matter, formed by the disintegration of the rocks. The rootstock is Virginia creeper. (This is American rootstock and a very unusual choice) The exposure is southwest, elevation is 300/400 meters, training system is guyot and there are 3,000 vines/ha. The vineyards are10/30 years old. Harvest takes place in early November by hand and the grapes are transported immediately to the winery in 18 kg boxes and crushed and destemmed. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts selected in the vineyard. Maceration lasts for 15 days. After racking 30% of the wine was stored in oak barrels of 5HL, the rest remained in steel. Malolactic fermentation started spontaneously and lasted for 13 days. All the wine was assembled in steel and was bottled without filtration. This is a wine with ripe fruit aromas and flavor with hints of balsamic, spice and licorice.  $35IMG_6192

Taurasi Opera Mia 2008 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe 100% Aglianico. The grapes come from the Carazita vineyard. Harvest takes place the first week of November and a selection is made in the cellar. Parts of the grapes go through a cold pre –fermentation/maceration to extract color and aroma. The alcohol fermentation is followed by a long maceration on the skins. After the wine is racked it is put into French oak (Allier and Troncais barriques) for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has ripe red fruit with hints of black cherry, prune, spice and is full bodied. $50IMG_6193

Taurasi “Poliphemo” 2008 Tecce Luigi 100% Aglianico. The Cantina is in Paternopli and the vines were first planted in 1935. There are 5 hectares of vines at 550 meters the highest in the Taurasi zone. The soil is limestone sediment, material from various Vesuvius eruptions, sand and clay. The wine is fermented in large chestnut casks where maceration lasts for 40 days and then it is aged in tonneaux for 12 months.

Written on the back of the bottle is what Mr. Tecce states is NOT IN his wine: No enzymes, No malolactic bacteria, No added tannin, No de-acidification. No clarification and No Arabic gum. This is very tradition Taurasi.  $?IMG_6187

 Falerno Del Massico Rosso “Vigna Camarato” Villa Matilde made from 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from a single vineyard. The soil is volcanic with high levels of phosphorous and potassium. The vineyard was planted in 1970, there are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Fermentation is on the skins for 20 to 25 days. The wine is aged in Aiiier oak barriers for 12 months, 1/3 new, 1/3 second passage and 1/3 third passage. Then 12 to 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black and red berries with notes of spice and vanilla. $55

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Aglianico, campania

4 responses to “The Aglianico Grape in Campania

  1. Given that the grape grows well in volcanic soils, have they ever experimented with it on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily? Maybe the temperatures are too variable there? We went through a period where we drank a lot of Aglianico. I feel like I need to re-visit.

  2. Aglianico is one of my favorites, but wasn’t one I heretofore thought of when it was time to splurge on a $50 bottle–have some good Aglianico selections at my local wine purveyor that we pair with a variety of foods, but perhaps next time we’re celebrating something we’ll look to one of these instead of the usual Barbaresco or Brunello?

  3. Pingback: Campania Lunch (October 2014) « Wine Media Guild of New York

  4. Sounds like a wonderful luncheon. Would love to have had an opportunity to sample multiple aglianico based wines.

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