I have recently started writing an A to Z of Italian indigenous grape varieties for Altacucina Society’s website. My second installment is currently on the website. It is about Aglianico, a grape found in Southern Italy largely in two regions, Campania and Basilicata. This piece is about Aglianico from Basilicata, Aglianico del Vulture. Basilicata holds a dear place in my heart because it was a place I used for years to explain why I couldn’t leave Italy. Essentially, the refrain was, I haven’t yet been to Basilicata so thus I can’t leave. Needless to say I went to Matera in 2002 but still didn’t leave Italy for another few years. I had my first Aglianico del Vulture in 2002 and fell in love. I am thrilled to see that while not a household word yet, it is relatively well known in certain wine circles in the United States.
Basilicata, a region in Southern Italy, is considered by some to be Aglianico’s true home. While exact evidence is difficult to uncover, experts agree that the grape was found in this region as early as the 6th century B.C. Likely brought by the Greeks, it was called ellenico until about the 15th century. Ellenico is the Italian word for Hellenic or Greek. It is possible that the grape was brought to the settlement at Metaponto, near the city of Matera. Regardless of when it arrived in Basilicata, Aglianico has brought acclaim to the region for the fabulous wines it produces from the volcanic soils around Mount Vulture. Aglianico, a late ripening grape, is generally the last of the grapes to be picked for making dry wines.
To read the rest of this article that I wrote for Altacucina’s website, please click here.