Category Archives: Basilicata

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera di Basilicata

italy 600

While this latest variety, Malvasia Nera di Basilicata, has some of the same origins as the other Malvasias that I have written about, it is said to be less ancient than the white grape versions of Malvasia. This one probably came to Basilicata from nearby Puglia and has a lot in common with Malvasia di Brindisi which I will write about next week and Malvasia di Lecce. This red grape variety tends to be used as a blending grape rather than as a monovarietal. It brings aromatics, alcohol and acidity to the blend. It grow around the cities of Matera and Potenza. It is part of the Grottino di Roccanova DOC, which was given that designation in 2009. It is blended with Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon in the DOC. This winery, Cervino Vini has a few different versions of wines made with this grape variety as do a couple of other wineries I found. Sadly, none seem available yet in the States.

I’ve always had a thing about Basilicata. Many people know the region because it is home to the city of Matera, a beautiful city and absolutely worth a visit. I used to say I would never leave Italy unless I got to see Basilicata, a way of course of staying for many years. I finally visited in 2002 and remember fondly my trip there. Having just returned from Vinitaly, I am reminded of all the wines that I have tasted over the years with producers from Basilicata, specifically from Lucania.

Sadly none of my pictures of this region are digital so, here I suggest looking up a movie that came out in the last few years about Basilicata – Basilicata Coast To Coast. It will give you a flavor of the rugged landscape. Some 47% of Basilicata is covered by mountains and it has two coastlines, one on the Ionian Sea and the other on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basilicata, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events

Wine Wednesday: Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture

1

This week’s wine Wednesday is dedicated to Re Manfredi’s Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata. The winery has 120 hectares and the vineyard that makes this wine is at 420 meters above sea level. I tasted it last at this year’s Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event. The woman who was showcasing the wine, Tiziana from GIV is a lovely person that I met in Italy many years ago. I tried the wine because I know her but also because I have a love affair with Basilicata as a region.

I have only visited a very small part of Basilicata, Matera, but it has been a crucial part of my Italian journey throughout the years. I always used to say I couldn’t leave Italy until I visited Basilicata. When I finally did, it still took me three more years to leave. The first time I heard about Aglianico del Vulture was in a wine class in Italy many years ago. Aglianico del Vulture is considered the most prestigious area for Aglianico in Basilicata. The Re Manfredi winery is located in Venosa, the birthplace of Horace, the Latin poet. Mount Vulture is an extinct volcano and the soils near it are particularly fertile with nitrogen, calcium and tufa. Wines made from volcanic soils all have mineral notes I find and a certain elegance and grace. This one was no different. Aglianico is a tough grape because of its powerful tannins yet those from this area are rounded and more refined than some others I have had. This wine ages in oak for 10-12 months. You can taste some oak and vanilla flavors but they are not overwhelming. The wine is a nice balance of fruit, earth and spicy aromas combined with tertiary notes from the oak. Really enjoyable, it made me want to eat a very large steak although I am no longer a huge meat eater. The wine retails for about $34 and is imported by Frederick Wildman.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basilicata, Italian regions, Wine Wednesday

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata

250px-Italy_provincial_location_map.svg

This week’s variety is called Malvasia bianca di Basilicata. It is usually blended with other grapes, particularly with Moscato. One can find it in some of the DOC wines in Matera. For example, Matera Bianco. It must be made from a minimum of 70% Malvasia bianca di Basilicata. To make a sparkling Matera DOC, 70% must be Malvasia di Basilicata. Like many of the other Malvasias we have seen, this one also is said to hail from Greece from the city of Monemvasia in the Peloponnese. Malvasia is often used as a term to denote wines that are sweet, aromatic and not too alcoholic. This variety used to be used in Aglianico but now is found mostly in the white blends. Basilicata is a fascinating region and one that I would love to go back to visit. I went to Matera many years ago and was quite taken with it. It is very rugged. Some 47% of Basilicata is covered by mountains and it has two coastlines, one on the Ionian Sea and the other on the Tyrrhenian Sea. In fact, Basilicata for me was something of a jumping off point or better, an arrival. I always said I couldn’t leave Italy until I visited Basilicata. Then I went and still didn’t leave for three more years. I will have to scan my photos of that beautiful region but suffice it to say that it is still very much as it was centuries ago. There is a great movie that takes place in Basilicata that came out some years ago called “Basilicata Coast to Coast.” I loved it although some said it was a bit sentimental. Then again, so I am.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basilicata, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Memorable Events

Italian Wine Regions: Basilicata

As Vinitaly draws nearer, I am reminded of all the amazing wines that I have tried in past years. Some of the wines are from the most famous regions while others are from lesser known ones. Among those is the one of the regions in the Southern portion of the country, Basilicata, also known as Lucania. I like to say that name.

Sadly all of my pictures of this region aren’t digital so, here is a trailer from a great movie that came out in the last few years about Basilicata – Basilicata Coast To Coast. It will give you a flavor of the rugged landscape. Some 47% of Basilicata is covered by mountains and it has two coastlines, one on the Ionian Sea and the other on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

In fact for many years it was a joke in my family that I wouldn’t leave Italy until I visited Matera, that beautiful city made famous by Carlo Levi, “Cristo Si E Fermato A Eboli.” I visited Matera in 2002 but it took another four years to get me to leave Italy.

The best known wines to be produced in Basilicata are made from Aglianico. 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.

In Basilicata, Aglianico, tends to be cultivated on slopes which are anywhere from 400 to 800 meters above sea level. The region is very dry and hot in the summer. In the winter, it can get quite cold. These temperature changes give the vines time to rest and help to create concentrated fruit. Aglianico has good acidity and firm tannins. The aromatics of the grape tend towards blueberry, cherry, chocolate, coffee and smoke notes. Aglianico del Vulture is a very long lived wine and can take some years to open up.

Aglianico del Vulture was given the DOC designation in 1971 and finally the DOCG in 2011.

Aglianico del Vulture can be made into a variety of styles. The base wine is aged for 12 months in barrels which are generally made of chestnut although some producers are trying to use French oak. When the wine label has the word vecchio on it, it means the wines have been aged in wood for 36 months. For the Riserva wines, the aging period is usually 60 months. Aglianico del Vulture can also be made into a dry and sweet sparkling wine as well.

Some of the most famous producers of these wines include Paternoster, Cantina del Notaio, Cantina di Venosa, Giannattasio, Terre dei Re, Bisceglia, and Donato D’Angelo.

Aglianico del Vulture is not the only area in Basilicata for wines. Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri and Matera are two additional well-known DOCs.

Oddly enough, international varieties are used in the Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri DOC. I tried the wines of the Consorzio Terre dell’Alta Val D’Agri. They were blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the reds which surprised me as well as a small percentage of indigenous varietals. The whites were made with Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata.

I tried a number of wines including ones from Francesco Pisani’s Azienda Agricola Biologica Pisani. They were also organic which was even more surprising. Perhaps it was the altitude at which the vines were grown, 600-800 meters above sea level, that allowed them to grow without intervention of any sort.

I also tried wines from De Blasis, Nigro, Fiorenti and L’Arcera. They were all interesting, big, rich wines that needed to be tried with food. Needless to say, I am going to go back this year on a full stomach, towards the end of the day. These are not morning wines.

Matera DOC, the third area that I explored makes both red and white wines from indigenous grapes. One of the most memorable wines was from Ditaranto. I especially enjoyed the Greco bianco which was floral and fruity at the same time. I also really enjoyed their wine called L’Abate made from Primitivo.

Of all the wines I tried that day though, I have a soft spot for those of Michele Laluce. I highly recommend them if you have the chance. I think you will be as speechless as I was at their bonta’.

I can’t wait to try more of these wines and the new vintages this year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basilicata, Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Travel, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Bombino Bianco From Apulia, Bombino Nero From Basilicata

Thursday is indigenous grape variety day here at Avvinare. This week’s grape is Bombino Bianco, a white grape variety which grows in Apulia and some other regions surrounding that part of the Italian boot. Bombino Bianco is cultivated both in the area around the city of Bari as well as the Salento, lower down in Apulia near the city of Lecce. This grape variety has many names and is often erroneously called Trebbiano, the most widely planted white grape in Italy. Trebbiano is a distinct grape variety. In fact, sometimes, Bombino Bianco is blended with Trebbiano such as in the San Severo Bianco made by the lovely producer Alberto Longo.

I looked high and wide but could not find an monovarietal wines made from Bombino Bianco to try. I know that some producers do make them but I have never had one. A winery called Cantine Teanum makes one apparently.

There is also a Bombino Nero, which is a red grape variety that grows in the region of Basilicata principally and a bit around the city of Bari in Apulia. Bombino Nero is almost never vinified along but is used as a blending grape with Uva di Troia, Malvasia Nera and Montepulciano. Both of these grapes have no clear origin but some say at least the white comes from Spain initially. Both are extremely productive as well and are sometimes used as table grapes.

Both of these regions are close to my heart. In fact, Basilicata for me was something of a jumping off point or better, an arrival. I always said I couldn’t leave Italy until I visited Basilicata. Then I went and still didn’t leave for three more years. I will have to scan my photos of that beautiful region but suffice it to say that it is still very much as it was centuries ago. There is a great movie that takes place in Basilicata that came out last year called “Basilicata Coast to Coast.” I loved it although some said it was a bit sentimental. The again, so I am.

4 Comments

Filed under Basilicata, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Puglia