The Aglianco grape variety

vesevo_beneventano_aglianico_2008_1_1Aglianico is the dark horse of the Italian grape variety both literally and figuratively. Okay, that doesn’t make sense: the grape can’t be a horse but it IS a black grape nonetheless. It’s nowhere near as famous in the global market as its neighbouring grape Nero d’Avola, but you can pick up an bottle of equal (or even better calibre) for much less the price.

Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, endowing them with good ageing potential. In its youth, Aglianico is very tannic and concentrated, requiring a few years of ageing before it can be approachable. As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced with the rest of the wine. The trademark colouring of the wine is a deep garnet. In well made examples of the wine, it can have chocolate and plum aromas.

I’ve tried Aglianico’s both young and mature already. My very first was served to me in Umberto Ristorante e Pizzeria and was called Beneventano Aglianico. I was immediately surprised by the full and dark bouquet that it had and its strong (yet very tight and controlled) tannins. It may in fact be the first tannic wine that I’ve liked!!! And despite its strength, i believe it was only 13.5% alcohol. Fast forward to the wine I’m drinking now: a Taurasi, the pride of Napoli wine. Taurasi’s need to be aged for a minimum of 3 years prior to release with at least 1 of those years being in barrel to stabilise the tannins and give it a much softer appeal. It’s definitely a much smoother, more balanced wine (than the Aglianico) and one that can stand its own against the Barolo’s and Amarone’s of the North.

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Aglianico wineAglianico terredora @ Vinera wine bar: 30 minutes after my Taurasi above and after I’ve had some deep fried pizzas (as my host calls them) for 20c each at Pizzeria di Matteo (made famous thanks to Bill Clinton having a €1 street pizza there). This is my second Aglianico and I think I prefer them more to Taurasi’s. Or maybe I’ve been lucky as apparently they can be quite wild if not aged enough. This one is full and, like the Beneventano that I tried two days ago, the tannins are very present but very well controlled, giving it just the right amount of character.

Addendum: I’ve just discovered that a wine I ordered from Trullo months ago and immediately fell in love with (L’Atto 2010 – Cantine del Notaio) is made of 100% Aglianico!!!

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