While the wines of Northern Italy are widely celebrated, down south there’s a red worth revering.
The northern and central parts of Italy have for a long time seduced wine lovers with hard to replicate examples of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Sangiovese, to name just a few.
This unwavering focus has resulted in many of us overlooking the beauty of the red wines of southern Italy. And if there is one variety on which the south should stake its claim, it is Aglianico.
Aglianico is considered one of the noble red varieties in southern Italy. Given it can make hauntingly beautiful and long lived wines, it’s a shame it’s not celebrated with the same level of fanfare as its northern counterparts. Basilicata and Campania are the two regions in which Aglianico shows its best.
It thrives on volcanic soil and reaches its pinnacle in the DOCG wines of Aglianico del Taburno, Aglianico del Vulture and Taurasi.
Elevation plays a key role in the quality of wines from these DOCG regions, however, there is also a lot of Aglianico grown at lower elevations, in warmer climates that offer wines that are softer and easier to approach in their youth. You can also find Aglianico blended with other native grapes, and even Cabernet Sauvignon.
Aglianico In Australia
The Chalmers family of Mildura were responsible for bringing Aglianico into Australia in 1998. Given that it can thrive in many different climates, it is a little surprising that it is not planted more widely than it is today. Aglianico’s ability to retain its acidity in hot climates makes it a great tool for grape growers to combat global warming.
Bendigo winery Sutton Grange planted Aglianico in 2004 and have the oldest vines in the country. There are also plantings sprinkled throughout the country with the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Heathcote and Beechworth showing great promise.
Did you know?
Aglianico is commonly referred to as the ‘Nebbiolo of the south’ due to its similar high levels of acidity and tannin. When grown at elevation, Aglianico is one of the last grape varieties to be harvested anywhere in Italy.
Redcurrant, black cherry and black plums are the common fruit characters in Aglianico. Add to this mix notes of black tea leaves and dried herbs.
Acidity and tannin both play a major role in giving the wines structure and body.
The high acidity and tannins in Aglianico make it a superb wine to pair with food. Slow cooked red meat dishes, pasta with tomato based sauces and lentils are all superb pairings.