Appellation Guide: Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG (Basilicata, Italy)

Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG was recently born out of the original Aglianico del Vulture DOC, Basilicata's key wine growing zone. The DOCG classification came into effect from he 2011 vintage and seeks to recognise the measures of those producers wishing to age their wines for considerably longer and thus, so the theory goes, produce a more serious wine.

In order to achieve the DOCG status, the regulations stipulate that the wine must be aged for a minimum of 12 months in oak and another 12 months in bottle before release. In order to produce a riserva, the wine must receive 24 months in wood and 24 months in bottle.

In reality this DOCG has proved to be a wasted opportunity to project Aglianico del Vulture in the light it should be. With growing national and international acclaim of Aglianico del Vulture (and with DOCG neighbours in Taurasi and Taburno) the time had indeed come to recognise the area appropriately under Italy's quality classification. Unfortunately there were sticking points with the project, namely the notion that there was too large a gulf in price between the areas wine.

Quality driven producers were releasing wines at €20 a bottle while more volume oriented operations were moving wine at close to €1 a bottle. The assumption was that some wineries wineries were producing exceptional wines of geographical distinction while others were not. The solution? To use an extended ageing stipulation to separate those making basic wines for early consumption and those making something more serious. Nice in theory.

In practise, we have seen two side effects. Firstly, many producers are not really in a financial position to keep wine back from the market while it aquires the necessary maturation time (regardless of the vintage). consequently they declassify their wine and release it as the DOC.

In short, the differences between the two classifications are are nominal. Therefore the take up from producers in small which in turn leads to a large amount of consumer confusion. Is it a DOCG or isn't it? The story of Aglianico del Vulture DOCG is widely considered a political move, a headline grabber for those with interests outside of the wide sector. Another missed opportunity to communicate the region's best wines.

With time the necessary modifications will no doubt be made, but for the moment it feels a little bit like a step backwards than the celebratory progress it should be.

Production zone: Rionero in Vulture, Barile, Rapolla, Ripacandida, Ginestra, Maschito, Forenza, Acerenza, Melfi, Atella, Venosa, Lavello, Palazzo San Gervasio, Banzi and Genzano di Lucania.