Aglianico Preview for Italian Food, Wine and Travel #ItalianFWT

Mastroberardino "Radici" Taurasi Riserva and Vini Alois "Campole" Aglianico

Sampling the same grape in two different interpretations

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group Explores Aglianico #ItalianFWT

Join the Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group as we dive deep into wines made from the Aglianico grape. This Saturday March 3, our posts will all be live and we’ll be chatting about our discoveries. Join us on Twitter Saturday March 3 at 10am CST at #ItalianFWT.

Take a look at all the great ideas our group will be posting:

  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Curling up with a Good Book, a Comforting Bowl of Pasta and a Wonderful Glass of Aglianico”
  • Jane from Always Ravenous shares “Braised Lamb Paired with Aglianico”
  • Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “Aglianico: A Southern Italian Gem”
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Memories and Flavors of Campania + Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico Rubrato 2014″
  • Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Aglianico from the Old World and New: Campania vs. Paso Robles
  • Nicole from Somms Table shares “Cooking to the Wine: Vigneti del Vulture Aglianico del Vulture with Braised Oxtails
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares “The Sacred Vines of the Basilicata with D’Angelo Aglianico”
  • Jill from L’Occasion shares “Aglianico Connections in the Napa Valley
  • Susannah from Avvinare shares “Aglianico from Irpinia”
  • My post at Food Wine Click! is “Aglianico Battle between Campania and Basilicata”

Campania and Basilicata are southern Italian regions which produce the most highly regarded Aglianico wines. Map courtesy of Wine Folly

What’s Aglianico?
The Aglianico grape is inky dark in color, high in both acid and tannins.  It loves the sunshine. The vines bud early and ripen late (hence loving the sun). It thrives in volcanic soils. Aglianico has been used in making wine longer than almost any other known grape variety. While it is thought to have been brought to Italy by the Greeks, there is no real basis for this. Recent DNA testing shows Aglianico is not related to any other known grape varieties, nor is it a close relative to any Greek grapes. Some consider Aglianico to be the flagship grape of southern Italy. With both high acid and tannins and a strong ability to age, it is sometimes called the “Barolo of the South”.

Aglianico From Purity to Elegance
As a preview to our upcoming posts, I wanted to sample a couple of Aglianico wines. What better than to taste the grape with as little adornment as possible and to compare it to one of the most highly regarded wines with oak and age. Not to choose one as better, but to look for common features and unique characteristics.

Vini Alois Campole is 100% Aglianico

Vini Alois “Campole” is 100% Aglianico grown in Campania. The wine is aged in stainless steel before bottling to preserve the purity of the fruit flavors

Michele Alois Vineyards “Campole” Aglianico IGP 2013 ($17 at France 44)
From the province of Caserta in Campania, Vini Alois “Campole” Aglianico is grown on volcanic soils. The grapes are vinified and aged in stainless steel and then bottled, so there is only fruit purity and no oak influence.

Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a cool edge.
Nose: Clean, Medium+ intensity of dark fruit, ripe blueberries, blackberries nearly overshadowed by a smoky element. Clean fruit aromas without a hint of oak.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity and high, firm tannins but not coarse. Medium body, medium alcohol. Medium length tannic fruit finish. Very enjoyable with food and very nice with pizza!

Mastroberardino and Taurasi
Mastroberardino has a long history of grape growing and winemaking in the Irpinia region within Campania in southern Italy. At one time, they were virtually the only producer investing energy into producing truly fine wine from the Aglianico grape. In recent years,others have joined, but Mastroberardino still holds a place of honor among all.

Mastroberardino Taurasi Riserva “Radici” DOCG 2007 ($70 at Sunfish Cellars)
The Radici Taurasi Riserva is composed of 100% Aglianico grapes grown at the Montemarano estate. Aglianico is a grape requiring a long growing season. This particular Aglianico plot ripens very late, with manual harvest occurring in November. Winemaking involves long maceration (where the grape skins and seeds are in contact with the fermenting grape juice), followed by 30 months in a combination of French oak barrique and large Slovenian oak barrels. Finally the wine is held in bottle for at least 1 year before release.

Eye: Clear, deep ruby with a thin brick colored edge. Lightly stained legs.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity deep dark fruit with vanilla, cooking spices and a touch of cedar closet in the background. The aroma encourages more inhaling and contemplation.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity, medium acidity, medium+ tannins but so refined. The fruit is abundant, dark and ripe blueberries, blackberries. Nice long lingering finish of ripe blackberries and blueberries with a refined tannic edge.

Pizza Night at FoodWineClick!
We love our Primo Ceramic Grill for its’ versatility. It is equally at home smoking meats low and slow, and can also be set up as an excellent 550° F bread and pizza oven. My current favorite source for pizza recipes is Ken Forkish’s “The Elements of Pizza“. The ingredients are simple and explanations are complete and are set up for a home oven, and they work great out in our grill, summer and winter. We just made a couple of pizzas to try with our Aglianico wines. All that acid and tannin in the wines was begging for some food!

Pairing Aglianico with Pizza
The Campole was great with pizza, it had plenty of acidity and flavor to balance the melted cheese and mildly spicy sausage. True to the Vini Alois description, the wine showed off the pure fruit in the wine without a lot of other influences. Priced for everyday consumption, this wine would be enjoyable with homemade, delivery, even frozen pizza if that’s your thing. The Mastroberardino displayed more nuance with long oak aging and many years in the bottle. It tasted great with the pizza, but it could have easily paired with a more delicate dish. Whether your budget is $20 or $70, there’s an Aglianico for you!

 

 

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