Variety Show: Spotlight on Aglianico

StefanoToday’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.

(Information on the grape variety taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012 – for more information about grape varieties, check out our Grape Variety Archive)

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:

(1) Campania

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)

(2) Basilicata

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)

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About Stefano

I am a photographer and an ISA certified sommelier. I contribute to two blogs, Flora's Table (the fine cooking and wine blog - www.florastable.com) and Clicks & Corks (my photography and wine blog - www.clicksandcorks.com). My photography Web site is at www.LightQuill.com
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7 Responses to Variety Show: Spotlight on Aglianico

  1. Stefano says:

    Reblogged this on Clicks & Corks and commented:

    Check out on Flora’s Table the new post in the Variety Show series, this time putting the Aglianico grape variety in the spotlight! Discover cool facts about its origins, DNA profiling, main appellations and recommended producers.
    Enjoy! 🙂

  2. sabine says:

    I had never heard of this plain grape, Greek or Italian, before! So again a very interesting lesson in wine, Stefano, grazie mille!

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you for your note, Sabine: some consider Aglianico “the Nebbiolo of the South” – maybe it is a bit of an exaggeration, but a good Aglianico made by quality producers such as those recommended above is a great wine. Plus, it is interesting how an Aglianico from Campania may taste differently compared to one made by its closne Aglianico del Vulture in Basilicata. If you can lay your hands on a couple of bottles, give it shot and let me know what you think about it.
      Grazie as always for you kind comments 🙂

  3. So many grape varieties and so little time to try them all! I am pretty sure I have never tasted this one. Thanks for the informative write up Stefano. 😉

    • Stefano says:

      That is indeed so true, dear B!!! Aglianico and its separate clone Aglianico del Vulture are a very interesting variety that, in the hands of reputable producers, makes some excellent wines. If you can source it locally, give it a try as I suspect you may like it – plus, it would be a new wine adventure for you! 🙂
      Thank you as always for your kind comment.

  4. Greece has some very good wines and I am a little saddened that this wine does not have a little Greek in it, you nearly got my hopes up!

    • Stefano says:

      Dear Maria, well, Aglianico may not originate from Greece after all (although as you saw there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other), but DNA profiling proved that Moscato Bianco is the same variety as a few Greek grapes, namely: Moschato Aspro, Moschato, Kerkyras and Moschato Mazas. Although it remains unclear whether the variety originated from Greece and was imported into Italy or viceversa, it is certain that all those grapes are just one and the same variety. There you go, a little “Greek connection” right there for you to enjoy! 🙂
      Thank you as always for your kind comments.

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