Aglianico wine from Basilicata and Campania
The character of the Aglianico red wines is shaped by the cultivation on small, scattered terraces on extinct volcanoes, like the Monte Vulture in Basilicata or the hills around Taurasi. There, Aglianico presents itself exceedingly rich in body and tannins, accompanied by a reduced yet prominent acidity. A velvety structure wrapped in a ruby red to deep dark dress testifies to the demanding vinification that begins from the late harvest on the vineyards lined with volcanic rock. Aglianico is special in many ways, but it is the taste above all that makes the grape variety popular and sought after.
Aglianico taste and character
The taste of Aglianico red wine is characterized by strong tannins and a pronounced acidity, which develop into a well-rounded pleasure when aged for a long time. The velvety tannins give the wine from the south of Italy a full body with concentrated spice. On the palate, powerful aromas of volcanic origin or plum, chocolate and dark wild berries are recommended. Thanks to the late ripeness of the Aglianico grape variety, powerful aromas build up, but are also spoiled with freshness by the nightly cold. The colour is marked by the thick-skinned grapes, rich in tannins, and fill the glass with ruby-red splendour.
The best Aglianico - DOCG Taurasi and DOC Aglianico del Vulture
Campania and Basilicata are predestined for the Aglianico grape variety thanks to the soil, climate and locations. The grapes sprout early and ripen late - the harvest partly starts in November. A cultivation in the north of the country is therefore not possible, as the grapes would not reach their full ripeness. Thus, Aglianico is almost exclusively cultivated in the south of Italy. Further growing areas are in California and Australia.
However, the best Aglianico wines come from the regions Campania and Basilicata. Here, the wines make it to DOCG status at up to 600 meters above sea level, for example in Taurasi or as DOC Aglianico del Vulture. Along the extinct Monte Vulture volcano, DOC Aglianico del Vulture is vinified single-vineyard and produces dark, concentrated and tannic wines that only get better with age.
Shelf life of Aglianico red wine
With its highly pronounced tannins, Aglianico red wine is not only ideally suited for long aging, it is also highly recommended. However, Aglianico should not be drunk young. Through the storage, the prominent tannins and the acidity disappear and make the wine round and velvety. Just like any red wine, Aglianico wine should be stored in a cool, dark and temperature-resistant place until the optimal time, in about 5 years after vinification, has come to serve the noble wine.
Aglianico grapes in the wine cellar - with acid degradation and wood
In the wine cellar, the grapes undergo an extremely gentle vinification. Due to the strong acidity, in most cases a biological acid reduction is necessary, which also usually takes place in wooden barrels. This gives the wine a creamy structure and a noble wood note. From cultivation to harvest to wine production, the Aglianico red wine undergoes a vinification process that meets the highest standards. You can taste it, you can appreciate it - Aglianico is special.
Malolactic acid reduction - from the winegrower's box of tricks
Malolactic acid reduction (Malo) or biological acid reduction (BSA) is the reduction of malic acid in wine by a bacterium called Oenococcus oeni. The bacterium converts malic acid into lactic acid and CO2. This makes the wine softer and creamier and henceforth contains less acid. This process is an important means to make the wine smoother, especially in the case of highly acidic wine.
The name Aglianico - origin and etymology
The Aglianico grape variety is old, very old, more than 2,500 years old it is said. The general opinion is that it was the Phoenicians who shipped the grape variety from Greece to the south of Italy via their trade routes and colonization. The name Vitis Helenica - Greek wine - is always buzzing around in this origin as a synonym for Aglianico. However, the evidence for this theory is relatively thin. DNA analyses did not provide any connection with the Aglianico grape variety and grape varieties from Greece. Rather, the analysis indicated close relations with grape varieties from Campania and Basilicata, above all with Aglianicone, a descendant of Aglianico.
The assumption that Aglianico was of Greek origin dates back to 1581, by a scholar named Giambattista della Porta. He equated the ancient Helvola grape variety, described by Pliny the Elder, with hellanico - a Hellenic grape. From then on, it was considered among wine authors that Aglianico equals hellanico equals Greek grape variety.
However, this thesis is contradicted by many facts, among them primarily the color of the two wines. While Helvola was a yellowish wine, Aglianico grapes are very dark. Moreover, the adjective hellenicus, which described objects of Greek origin, did not exist at the time of Pliny the Elder. Roman sources always spoke of graecus; Greek grapes and never Hellenic grapes.
The first written mention of Aglianico comes in 1520 from a document of Count Giulio Antonio Acquaviva d'Aragona, who also grew Aglianiche among his vines - plural for Aglianico. An etymological origin from Spanish is probable, since the first mention of Aglianico dates back to the period of Spanish occupation of Italy. The Spanish word for plain llano provides a hot trace of the origin of the name Aglianico, since the syllable lla is pronounced glia in Italian. If one takes older dialects into account, which refer to the grape variety as la Glianica , the meaning of the name Aglianico is obvious: the grape of the plain.
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