Aglianico del Vulture DOC

Aglianico del Vulture DOC is a wine making area that will always be close to my heart for reasons of family heritage. My grandfather was born in the the village of Ginestra, a clay rich village in the heart of the DOC.

Regardless, the are is one of the most important red wine territories in the south of Italy. It's volcanic soils and high attitude make provide the perfect conditions for the Aglianico grape, a variety which ripens late and produces big, heavy red wines that can improve for up to a decade.

The best of these wines demonstrate lots of complexity on the nose, with aromas of black fruit and prune. With some maturation in wood they pick up tertiary aromas of coffee, liquorice, spice and herb.

The DOC was first created in 1971 and up until the creation of a DOCG for superiore wines, had received only modest amendments. It allows only for the production of red wine made with the Aglianico del Vulture grape. Producers are not obliged to mature it in wood but many do. Only inexpensive, large volume examples are released without some time in wood.

The production zone is fairly simple here; just 15 villages are incorporated into the DOC. For this reason there have been calls for the consorzio to capitalise on the comparisons with Barolo and pursue the creation of a Cru system. It's not a bad idea.

A combination of different soil types, exposures and altitudes there microclimates are quite different in different parts of the DOC. Villages higher up such as Maschito and Rapolla are known for their sandy soils which creates more aromatic wine. In Rionero in Vulture, Venosa and Ginestra for example, the vineyards have a high clay content.

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

 

Campania

Campania's DOCG Wines

 

Campania's DOC Wines

Campania on the western coast of southern Italy is home to a wealth of gastronomic delicacies. The birthplace of Pizza and Calzone, the region is renown for its Buffalo Mozzarella and Neapolitan pastries. Crucially though, Campania boasts several wines of international reputation placing it firmly and proudly on the Italian wine map.

Despite producing a number of reds it is in fact the white wines which have come to shape the region’s vinous identity. Four white varieties dominate; Fiano, Greco, Falanghina and Coda di Volpe all of which contribute to make a multidue of wines that seek to express the terroir of Campania.

Fiano di Avellino, which carries the DOCG status, is made with Fiano grape, grown as you might expect, around the town of Avellino. An indigenous grape to Campania, its quality has inspired plantings in both Sicily and Australia and while the area under vine remains small production is on the rise. The traditional Fiano is a wine of intense aroma, with wonderful perfumes of tropical fruit and honey. With age it will take on tertiary aromas of roasted nuts, spice and smoke. There are very few Fiano’s to be found at entry level prices mainly because the grape is low yielding but consequently the wine has a good concentration of flavour and with early ripening in that part of the world, Fiano can often have a good deal of weight and a hefty punch of alcohol. Nevertheless Fiano di Avellino is a wine of premium quality and perhaps the star of Campania’s wine portfolio.

Greco di Tufo is undoubtedly the other noble wine of the region. Like Fiano, Greco is primarily found in the province of Avellino, referred to in the wine trade as Irpinia, with the grape assumed to have ancient Greek origins. Red wines from Aglianico are also produced here, notably the DOCG classified Taurasi, however it is generally accepted that the micro climates around this region are more suited to white wines. Both the relative cool and higher rainfall facilitate an extended growing season which ultimately assists the development of complexity and distinct aromatics.

To make Greco di Tufo DOCG the vineyards must fall within the boundaries of nine nominated towns, of which Montefusco has emerged as the most prestigious location. Montefusco sits at an altitude of over 700 metres above sea level, consequently ensuring a cooler climate ripening season. The moderated temperatures certainly contribute to the quality of the wine but crucially in this part of Campania it is the sulphur rich volcanic soil that adds character and identity.

There are subtle differences that can be identified through extensive tasting, the most evident example of local terrior being the increased minerality around the town of Tufo, which takes its name from the volcanic tufo rock, which sitting at a lower altitude don’t doesn’t impart the same elegance and finesse as those wines from the town of Montefusco. Greco di Tufo is capable of ageing for a number of years and will take on a deep gold colour. Wines from the top producers will mature and develop complex flavours, although heavily reliant on food pairings. Greco di Tufo generally though is a wine that exudes the characteristics of the grape, typically seeing little oak, therefore resulting in an intensely flavoured, floral nose which merges into a palate packed with apricot, peach and almond.

Falanghina has been grown in southern Italy for centuries, thriving on the Irpinian hills to the eat of Naples in volcanic soils. Falanghina is another one of Italy’s ancient varieties that is now starting to gain popularity as wine consumers become more adventurous and look to move beyond the standard international varieties. Generally the wine is fresh and fragrant, unoaked to showcase the grapes natural aromas and flavours and amazingly food friendly. Straw yellow in colour the wines should demonstrate tropical fruits with an oily texture. Planted in all five provinces in Campania, Falanghina was until fairly recently considered nothing more than a basic wine, too high in acidity and with very little future. A new generation of winemakers have improved techniques in the vineyard and cellar, proving that quality wine can be made with this promising grape.

Finally, Coda di Volpe is a variety that has certainly not achieved any international notoriety and is perhaps more likely seen as a basic blending grape. There are however a few wines that look to harness the individual characteristics of the grape and produce wines of interest. It takes its ancient name from the idea that the grape bunches resembled fox tails, the Italian being coda di volpe. The wines tend to be golden yellow in colour with a lightly perfumed nose, good body and alcohol. The most notable wine that utilises the coda di volpe grape is Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco. Legend has it, and there are endless variations of the theme, that Christ’s tears fell to earth and where they landed, the grapes grew to make Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio or Christs tears of Vesuvious.

This region is without doubt one to watch for exciting, fresh and fragrant white wines.

Basilicata

Basilicata may not boast a great deal of variety when it comes to wine production, but it hardly matters. Its flagship red is highly impressive and worthy of global attention. Aglianico del Vulture DOC, from the Aglianico variety, is produced in the north of the province of Potenza, around the the slopes of extinct volcano Monte Vulture and is capable of producing deep, well structured wines that can improve for up to ten years beyond the vintage.

Located in the South of Italy, Basilicata is a region of unspoiled beauty. It borders Puglia to the East and Campania to the West. It has sea access at Maratea and also at Golfo di Tranto. Forests, mountains, lakes and

Like elsewhere in Italy, Basilicata has produced wines for thousands of years. The region has always struggled with low levels of investment and consequently heavy migration out of the area. As such, the local market for wine has always been challenging any new wineries tend to focus on exports.

A hot climate prevails but due to the altitude of around 500 metres, evenings are cool and fresh and serve to cool down the fruit.

There are only around 40 producers operating here, the majority of which are small to medium sized wineries. There are only a few large operations.

Outside of the Vulture there is some movement, albeit on a small scale. In Val Camastra, a hilly area in the south of the region, a new winery has set up with plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muller Thurgau and Gewurtztraminer. Further south and east again, there are fairly good examples of Syrah and Primitivo being produced but quantities are low and they are rarely seen outside of the region.

The Producers