January 25, 2015

Basilicata’s winemaking is mostly known for Aglianico del Vulture, one of the best red wines of southern Italy. Despite being outshined by more famous appellations from Tuscany and Piedmont, this little-known gem from the Mezzogiorno is gaining more and more followers among specialists and discriminating amateurs. Although the Aglianico grape is grown throughout southern Italy, it is in Basilicata that it is best realized. Only Taurasi from neighbouring Campania gives it a run for its money. Historically, the Aglianico variety dates back to ancient Greece and was imported to Italy in the 6th or 7th century BC during the Hellenization of the southern peninsula—then called Magna Graecia (Great Greece). The grape quickly adapted to its new environment and spread rapidly throughout Campania and Basilicata. It is believed that its name derives from the Italian word for Greek, Ellenico, which over time became Aglianico. Regardless, the cool highland climate of Mount Vulture (an old extinct volcano) and its soils rich in potassium and phosphorus are particularly well suited to this grape, which takes a long time to mature. Aglianico del Vulture produces very dark, full-bodied reds, which are both delicate and complex. Its Riserva version, aged in oak barrels, keeps very well, while its normal version is best enjoyed young. Basilicata also makes some sweet and dry wines, like Moscato and Malvasia, but these are rarely exported.



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