Today’s grape variety in the spotlight is… Aglianico, together with its clone Aglianico del Vulture.
1. Aglianico’s Origins And History
Aglianico is a black-berried grape variety that is indigenous to Southern Italy. The earliest written evidence of this variety dates back to 1520 referring to the grapes as “Aglianiche”.
Although it is widely believed that the name “Aglianico” comes from a variant of the word “hellenic”, hinting at a Greek origin of the variety, this theory is confuted by others (including the authors of Wine Grapes) who contend that the word actually comes from the Spanish word “llano” (meaning “plain”), thus referring to Aglianico as the “grapes of the plain”.
2. Aglianico’s DNA Profiling
DNA analysis supports the authors’ theory as Aglianico’s DNA profile does not resemble that of any of the modern Greek grape varieties, while it is similar to Aglianicone’s, a Campanian variety which could be an offspring of Aglianico.
3. Aglianico’s Geographical Distribution
Aglianico wines tend to be structured and tannic, with good acidity which gives them great aging potential. Aglianico is almost exclusively grown in Southern Italy, where it achieves its best results in the regions of Campania and Basilicata (where it is present with its separate clone Aglianico del Vulture), particularly in the following appellations:
- Taurasi DOCG (in the Campania region, encompassing a territory near the town of Avellino and requiring the use of a minimum of 85% Aglianico grapes as well as 36 months of aging for base Taurasi wines and 48 months for Taurasi Riserva wines)
- Aglianico del Taburno DOCG (in the Campania region, encompassing a territory near the town of Benevento and requiring the use of a minimum of 85% Aglianico grapes as well as 24 months of aging for the base wine and 36 months for the Riserva)
- Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG (in the Basilicata region, encompassing the volcanic territory near the town of Atella and requiring the use of 100% Aglianico del Vulture grapes as well as 24 months of aging for the base wine and 36 months for the Riserva)
- Aglianico del Vulture DOC (in the Basilicata region, encompassing a slightly larger territory than the “Superiore” appellation and requiring the use of 100% Aglianico del Vulture grapes)
Outside Italy, limited plantings of Aglianico may be found in Australia and in California.
4. Recommended Aglianico Producers
Recommended producers of outstanding Aglianico wines include:
Cantine Antonio Caggiano, Taurasi “Vigna Macchia dei Goti” DOCG ($30)
Feudi di San Gregorio, Taurasi “Piano di Montevergine” Riserva DOCG ($55)
Galardi, Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina IGT (80% Aglianico, 20% Piedirosso) ($60)
Mastroberardino, Taurasi “Radici” Riserva DOCG ($65)
Basilisco, Aglianico del Vulture “Basilisco” DOC ($40)
Cantine del Notaio, Aglianico del Vulture “Il Sigillo” DOC ($38)
Elena Fucci, Aglianico del Vulture “Titolo” DOC ($40)
Paternoster, Aglianico del Vulture “Don Anselmo” DOC ($60)