Tag Archives: Aglianico del Vulture

Wine Wednesday: Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture

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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.

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Wine of the Week: L’Atto Basilicata IGT from Cantina del Notaio

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This week’s wine of the wine is made from 100% Aglianico del Vulture. The wine is called L’Atto and comes from the Cantine del Notaio winery. I can only imagine it is called this because of the play on the word ‘notary.” In Italian, l’atto also means deed, among other things.

This winery is in Basilicata. 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 first Aglianico del Vulture.

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.

Aglianico seems like a perfect wine to be drinking with this never ending weather. The grapes that went into this particular wine were hand harvested. They underwent a short maceration of 5-6 days. Maceration brings out the color in wine as well as tannin and other polyphenols but with a grape like Aglianico, you want to be careful not to over-extract. In fact to control the rate and depth of extraction, the winery vinifies the wine at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. The wine then ages in their funky tufa cellars in small barrels, tonneaux and others, for a period of 12 months.

The wine is full bodied and balanced with spice and fruit notes typical of this grape variety. It has a lot of finesse and elegance and a long finish. Balanced and harmonious, this wine brought me back to that fascinating region.

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. I have tasted a number of 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.

Some of the otherfamous producers of these wines include Paternoster, 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 at this year’s fair.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian wineries, Wine of the Week, wines

Happy New Year! Buon Inizio!

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The last couple of weeks have been filled with family and friends, lots of food and various wines. Unlike most bloggers/writers, I didn’t do my sparklers for the New Year blog post. I did partake though in some lovely wines that people brought me over the course of the last two weeks and others that  I have shared at the various holiday meals. This year, unlike many others, I have stayed local. It has been relaxing although some of those amazing photos of the mountains and skiing did whet my palate for that. Perhaps later this year or next. I have always celebrated Christmas and this year was no different. This Christmas we started with a lovely bottle of Prosecco Denominazione Controllata e Garantita (D.O.C.G.) from Le Manzane.

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The winery is located in the province of  Treviso, the vineyards lie between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, the area where Prosecco D.O.C.G. wines are made.

The vineyards are located on soils that are the remains of glacial soils, fertile red earth often called “ferretto.”  We then had two wonderful wines with a beautiful roast beef: Amarone della Valpolicella 2010 from Antonio Fattori and Il Sigillo 2008, an Aglianico del Vulture from the Cantine del Notaio. Antonio Fattori is a fabulous producer from the Veneto who is well known for his white wines and who bought vineyards in the Valpolicella/Amarone area a few years ago.  I worked with Fattori for a few years so I know his wines and his philosophy very well. Here is a great article on him from Vino al VIno and one that was published in Terroirist.com last year. Amarone is made from a blend of three grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Here is a great graphic from the fabulous site Wine Folly about the Valpolicella, Amarone, Recioto wine pyramid. 

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The second wine, Il Sigillo was made from 100% Aglianico grapes. The grapes in this wine are also “appassiti” or left to raisin on the vine. The website in fact calls this wine Amarone made with Aglianico grapes oddly enough. I find this wine to be spicier than Amarone however, thanks to the characteristics of the Aglianico grape. Cantina del Notaio is follows biodynamic agricultural practices and is certified by Demeter since 2008.   The winery has 26 hectares of vines throughout the Aglianico del Vulture area: Rionero, Barile, Ripacandida, Maschito and Ginestra. Some of the vines are over 100 years old. While there are different top soils, they all share a layer of soil of  vulcanic of origin which is fertile and rich with minerals.

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It was a great way to celebrate Christmas and the last week of the year. More posts to come on other wines that were shared this past week but for the moment, just a hearty happy New Year to all. I hope 2014 is a great one for all with lots of new and interesting wines, great experiences and travel and many discoveries.

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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.

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

Basilicata’s Aglianico del Vulture, A Wine Close To My Heart

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.

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