Aglianico, "The Nebbiolo of Southern Italy"
Focus on Aglianico
If you're like most wine drinkers, then it is not surprising if you've never heard of Aglianico.
Aglianico (pronounced al-YAN-ik-oh)considered by many as Italy's 3rd best red grape after Nebbiolo and Sangiovese and is widely grown in the southern Italian regions of Puglia, Campania and Bascilicata. If you're a fan of rustic reds with deep fruit flavors and bold, dusty tannins, then Aglianico could be your new favorite!
Aglianico is one of the world's oldest grapes to be cultivated for wine production and thus the origins are largely shrouded in mystery and hotly debated. Traditionally, the vine is thought to have originated in Greece, first cultivated by Phocians and then brought to southern Italy by Greek settlers in the 8th century BC. However DNA analysis shows that the grape little to no relation to any known Greek varietals. This has led many to conclude that the varietal is native to southern Italy although it is possible that it could be the scion of a lost strain of Greek grapes lost to time.
What does Aglianico taste like?
In years past Aglianico's massive tannins would require a number of years in the cellar to resolve into flavors and textures that would compliment instead of overpower the dark fruit flavors of the grape, similar to Nebbiolo (thus the grape being known to many as the Nebbiolo of the south). Today is it still possible to find many old school wines that require extended cellaring, many producers have begun to craft softer, smoother examples of the grape that haven't lost savory soul of the varietal but are much more enjoyable a a younger age.
Young Aglianico wines are known for strikingly savory flavors of leather, white pepper, black fruits and cured meat that when aged, develop soft dusty aromas of dried figs and sun-tanned leather.