Aglianico del Vulture is a DOC (official Italian designation of origin) wine from the Basilicata region made with Aglianico grapes grown in the Vulture area, near the town of Potenza.
The DOC designation was officially registered in 1971.
Considered to be one of the oldest and most prestigious vines of Italy, Aglianico appears to date back to Ancient Greece. Grown and loved both in Italy and abroad, this is a red grape variety that makes a strong and well-structured wine.
History and etymology of Aglianico
The history of Aglianico is lost in the mists of time, therefore, its origins are very difficult to determine. It appears to have been introduced by the Greeks in their Southern Italian colonies around 800 or 700 BC. Among the most commonly mentioned historical evidence is the discovery of a Roman wine press in Rionero in Vulture, as well as an ancient bronze coin found in the Venosa area, depicting Dionysus (Bacchus in the Roman transposition), a Greek god. As for literary citations, possibly none deserves a mention more than the famous odes to wine written by Roman poet Horace, a native of Venosa. The origin of the name is quite uncertain, if not even mysterious. For many years, people believed that the term Aglianico came from ancient Greek – confirming its ancient Greek etymology – and that the original word was “crippled” during the Aragonese domination to become Aglianico. According to another theory – introduced by Manuela Piancastelli – the term Aglianico derives from the Greek word “agleukinosicos” or “wine without sugar/glucose”
Aglianico is a grape variety grown mainly in the Basilicata and Campania regions and, to a lesser extent, in other regions of Southern Italy, such as Apulia, Molise and Calabria. Lately, both in Australia and California, local wine producers have tried to introduce it.
Characteristics of the vine variety
Aglianico, a late vine variety that has a growth cycle ending in November, prefers mineral – rich soils with a fair amount of clay and limestone, just like the area around Mount Vulture – an extinct volcano.
As for the climate, this is a variety that needs ventilated hills, as well as mild winters and summers that are never too hot or dry, however, the high tannin content can help the plant even in unfavorable climatic conditions.
The leaves are medium-sized, with five lobes and in a wedge shape. The grape bunch – medium in size and compact – is simple or winged, with one or two well-developed wings. The single grape is blue-black and round, with an average diameter of 12-15 mm (roughly half an inch).
Characteristics of the wine
Colour, Bouquet and Taste
Brilliant ruby red with some garnet.
Fruity and strong bouquet with hints of undergrowth.
Dry, enveloping and tannic – softens with age.
Goes well with
Aglianico goes very well with either baked or grilled beef and pork, as well as with game, mature cheese and hot/spicy food.
In the area surrounding Mount Vulture – an extinct volcano – Aglianico achieves very high-quality standards. The local climate and the geographical features make it one of the greatest red wines of Italy.
The Aglianico del Vulture DOC designation of origin requires specific geographic characteristics and production standards.
For almost a century now, Aglianico del Vulture has been both the undisputed king of Basilicata’s winemaking culture and the strength of Casa Vinicola D’Angelo in Rionero in Vulture.
What makes Aglianico del Vulture so unique
The local climate and geography certainly help Aglianico del Vulture stand out among all other Aglianicos. The volcanic origin of the area (Mount Vulture is an extinct volcano) makes the land very fertile and mineral-rich, which gives the local wine its typical complexity and structure. In addition, the tuff acts like a sponge; it absorbs the water from the abundant rains and snowfalls, releasing it during the summer, a process that helps the vines in the driest weeks of the year. The local climate, which is cool and dry, is another great contributor to the success of this wine. One might think that being in Southern Italy it would be hot and humid, however, thanks to the elevation of the area (300-500 metres above sea level, 1000-1600 feet) and the natural shielding provided by Mount Vulture, the vines can enjoy relatively cool and dry weather. In summer, temperatures drop by 10-15 degrees (about 20 Fahrenheit) at night, which allows a slow and gradual ripening of the grapes in terms of phenol and sugar. This is the main reason why the harvesting of this particular grape variety takes place later than usual – late October into November. The final product has great aging potential and a pleasant tannic content.
Casa Vinicola D’Angelo
Set up in the 1920s, Casa Vinicola D’Angelo is considered one Basilicata’s milestones in the history of Aglianico del Vulture