Aglianico - an ancient grape

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 2 Jan 2016

Hikers on our new Southern Italy tour will have many opportunities to taste a wonderful local wine made from an ancient grape variety known as Aglianico. It's origins are a little unclear but the name probably derives from the word "Hellenic" or Greek, as this part of Southern Italy was colonised by the Greeks before the rise of the Roman empire.

This red grape buds early and ripens late and the harvest often does not take place until the end of October into the middle of November. It produces a full-bodied red wine with musky berry flavours and firm tannins and it has good aging potential too.

There are two areas where wines made from the Aglianico grape have achieved the top DOCG classification. The first is in Campania - the region surrounding Naples - where the grapes grow in the volcanic soils of the appellation known as Taurasi. These wines must be made with 85% Aglianico grapes and can be topped up with other local varieties such as Piedirossi or Primitivo. They must be aged for three years, including one in wood, before being released to market.

The second DOCG area is in the region of Basilicata, where our hike takes place, and the classification is known as Aglianico del Vulture. Here the grapes grow on the spectacular slopes of the extinct Vulture volcano at quite high altitudes, and the denomination demands 100% Aglianico grapes with no other blending.

This is a grape which loves a dry, warm climate and makes it a perfect match for many parts of Australia too. The list of regions planting this grape is expanding and includes the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, Heathcote, Riverina, Margaret River and Bendigo.  Often referred to as the "Barolo of the South" this is a stunning food wine and one which you should add to your tasting list for 2016!  See our Wine Page for more ideas on sourcing great Italian wines.