Tag Archives: Aglianico

Wine Wednesday: Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture


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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Women in Wine Fridays: Silvia Imparato & Montevetrano from Campania

Monte Vetrano

I first heard the name Montevetrano more than 19 years ago from a friend in Milan who knew the family. He had a birthday this week and has been on my mind so I thought I would write about this lovely wine. I met part of the family in 1997 and finally met Silvia Imparato in 2010 at Vinitaly when I was translating for the Wine Spectator at meetings they held with various regions of Italy.

I found her to be very approachable and open then as I did at the most recent OperaWine event this year. Imparato makes wines with Riccardo Cotarella as her winemaker in Montevetrano, a small area near Salerno in the Campania region of Italy. Her wines are made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon,  and Aglianico, the signature indigenous grape of this region.

The grapes are harvested in the same order as they are listed above. The grapes ferment in steel tanks for 15-20 days after a long maceration on the skins for 20 days. The grapes sustain numerous pressings, according to the website, and 15% is bleed off thereby concentrating the wine. It is then aged in new barriques for 12 months and spends six months in the bottle before it is released. The wine can age 10-15 years.

The soils on the property are rich in fossils  with a Mediterranean climate and protection from the wind by the nearby mountain range. The grapes are listed under the Colli di Salerno IGT denomination. I find the wine to be very lush and full bodied with lavish nuances of fruit and spice as well as oak tones. The wine is sure to please those who look for refined wines with power. I often find Cotarella’s wines to have a signature style, like any of the top winemaking consultants, but this one in particular shows the force of the indigenous variety as well as  the hand of the expert winemaker.

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Wine of the Week: Terra di Lavoro 2009 from Campania

Terra di Lavoro 2009

This week’s wine of the week is Terra di Lavoro from Campania. The wine is the only one that the Galardi family makes on its estate. The estate was created in 1991 by four cousins. The family hired Riccardo Cotarella and the first vintage was made in 1994, just 600 bottles of the wine were released. Now 32,000 bottles of the wine are produced. The winery is located on the slopes of the extinct volcano Roccamonfina in northwestern Campania.

The name of the wine is actually a reflection of how difficult it is to work this land and grow grapes. The wine is made from a blend of indigenous varieties from Campania – Aglianico and Piedirosso. Aglianico does the lion’s share for the wine. Some 80% is Aglianico, with Piedirosso playing a supporting role. The vineyard lies at 1500 feet and is subjected to strong winds in both directions.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel before the wine ages in French barriques from Allier and Nevers for one year, after which time the wine spends an additional 10 months in the bottle before release. They use 70% new oak and 30% second passage.

I first tasted this wine back in 2010 as part of a tasting I helped with at Vinitaly for the
Wine Spectator. I had never heard of it before that event but have taken the opportunity to taste it again every chance I get. The most recent one was at an event held in March 2014 at Del Posto.

Campania's Wine Excellence

The wine was just incredible. It had rich, spicy notes with black and red fruit aromas and flavors as well as floral overtones from the Piedirosso. It also had an herbacious, earthy quality with hints of tobacco and ripe, juicy tannins. I highly recommend this wine with a special meal. I tried the 2009 and the 2011 at the event and both were gems. The wine is imported by Winebow.

The wine is deep purple in color with smoky, earthy aromas and seductive hints of tobacco and graphite. Notes of ripe black cherries, cassis, tobacco and leather come through on the palate of this big-structured, full-bodied wine.
Food Pairing

This iconic wine pairs beautifully with Italian or French pot roasts, filet mignon or aged cuts of beef.

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Filed under Campania, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Wine of the Week, wine wednesday, wines

Naples, Natale, Il Presepio and Wines from Campania

Last week, I had the honor to translate for the curator of a new exhibit at the Italian Institute of Culture on the Neapolitan Creche. There are many different Creches by Neapolitan artisans on show which truly are worth a visit.

The creche of the Presepio as it is called in Italy is a nativity scene. It started with figures from the Holy Family but soon branched out to add colorful scenes of everyday life in Naples with local characters represented in figurines. According to the curator, an art historian, this tradition began in the 1700s in Campania. At first it was the province only of the wealthy but by the mid 1800s it was commonplace to find families from all different social stratum creating creches at Christmas. It is a family activity and people of all ages work on the presepio together.

My friend Giancarlo from Milan used to have running water and electricity in his creche. It was incredible. He would spend weeks making it and everything had to be perfect.

I have never visited the famed commercial street where merchants hawk their wares, San Gregorio Armeno but it has been on my list for many years. A friend in Milan used to make

To see some great pictures of the exhibit, check out I-Italy, they have a great slide show and an in-depth article on the exhibition.

I haven’t spent enough time in Campania, visiting the countryside, cathedrals and drinking enough of its wine. Luckily for me, my friend Terry Hughes of Domenico Selections is a true fan and has introduced me to some great wines from Campania.

I particularly like the wines from Terra di Vento, Petrale 2006, a lush aglianico and Faiano 2009, a Fiano. He also introduced me to a Grillo that brought tears to my eyes.

Both the whites and the reds from Campania are splendid, especially those vineyards on volcanic soil which gives great minerality to the wines, a quality I very much appreciate.

I won’t be having a seven fishes dinner this evening but I will be drinking a wine from Campania with my own Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas to all. Buon Natale.

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Wine of the Week: Cabanico from Alovini

I had the good fortune to try a lovely wine at DOC in Williamsburg this weekend that I had never had: Cabanico from Alovini. I’m a Brooklyn moonie, meaning I love Brooklyn, as my dear friend Nicole would say but I do have enough sense to know a good wine when I taste one.

This blend of 50% Aglianico and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon made from grapes grown on volcanic Soil in Basilicata on the slopes of Monte Vulture was perfect. A great blend of minerality, fine tannins and fruit and spice made it silky and smooth without being cloying. This wine is the work of Oronzo Alo, an enologist originally from the Salento in Apulia who has been working in Basilicata for more than 15 years.

The wine spends nine months in barriques and then time in the bottle before being released but it is not at all overdone. His reduced yields, 40-60 hl/ha, are surely part of the reason that the fruit is so elegant as heavier selection leads to choosing better more phenolically ripe fruit. I am always drawn to wines that come from volcanic soils because they tend to have better minerality and sapidita’ or saline notes. Additionally, volcanic soil usually has good drainage and the fruit is almost always quite healthy.

Lucania is a region that has been repeatedly in my mind these last weeks thanks to numerous great wines from the area but also to a few movies that I have seen of late. The first is Rocco e I Suoi Fratelli by Luchino Visconti. This seminal work relates the story of a mother and her four sons who move to Milan from Lucania. The fifth son already lives in Milan. An amazing portrait of a certain time in Italian history, this immigrant story can be applicable to generations of people from many cultures. The film is great also in its regional accents and at showing the differences between the North and South of Italy at the time of the movie, 1960.

The second film is Basilicata Coast to Coast. It is the story of four friends who walk across Basilicata in order to go to a song contest on the other side of the region. They want to do something grand, a big gesture It’s somewhat of an “on the road tale” like Salvatores’ Tournee, part travelogue, male bonding friend movie, a love story and at the same time a love note to Basilicata. You see beautiful views of the countryside and of course meet colorful characters along the way. I saw this movie for the first time in April in Italy at the cinema. I also saw it on an Alitalia flight from Italy last week. It’s a small movie, a slice of Italian life, but one I really enjoyed and highly recommend.

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Indigenous Italian Grape Varieties: Abbuoto, Abrusco and Abrustine

I have begun writing a series on Italian grape varieties for Altacucina Society’s website. While I say in my introduction to the series that surely I will miss a few, I have decided to integrate the ones I missed on this blog. For Altacucina Society, I started with Aglianico although then I swiftly discovered at Vinitaly that there are three additional Italian varieties that I should have placed before Aglianico – Abbuoto, Abrusco and Abrustine. Mea Culpa. Abbuoto is a red grape which grows in the near the town of Frosinone in the Lazio region. In ancient times, this grape made a wine which was called Caecubum. A version of this wine is still made today by famed producer Villa Matilde. I tried a number of the wines at Villa Matilde but did not have the good fortune to try this one. This wine is imported by Empson.

Luckily I have a new tome, Vitigni d’Italia by Antonio Calo, Attilio Scienza and Angelo Costacurta that will keep me on the straight and narrow. I noticed with amusement that Jeremy Parzen mentioned the same book in a recent blog post on Dobianchi, his ode to Italian wines.

Back to grape varieties, Abrusco I recently learned is also a red grape. It is said to be of Tuscan origin. Some think it may be related to Colorino while others suggest that it is related to the family of Lambrusco grapes. According to my new wine bible, this grape is largely used as a coloring agent. In the past it was blended with other grapes but today, as part of an effort to restore ancient Tuscan varietals, at least two wineries are working with it. The first, Le Tre Stelle, has made a 100% Abrusco called Agino in memory of their father and Luigi Veronelli. This agriturismo has a very interesting marketing idea, adotta un vitigno or adopt a grape variety. I like it.


I tried a whole series of indigeous Tuscan varieties at Vinitaly which I will write about in the coming days. San Felice has Abrusco on its property as well as Abrustine, a third indigenous varietal that I had never heard of and which is not listed in my new bible. I also happened upon an interesting Italian blog, Sorsi di Vino which decants the Abrusco grape and its origins.


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