Aglianico Battle between Campania and Basilicata #ItalianFWT

The Aglianico Battle
In our past Italian Food Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) explorations, I’ve sampled Aglianico based wines from both Basilicata and Campania, two regions in Southern Italy. I was curious to try the wines “head to head” to find similarities and differences. Could I declare a winner? Read on! Our Italian FWT group is exploring Aglianico this month, take a look at the list of great recommendations farther down in this post to expand your Aglianico knowledge.

Elena Fucci "Titolo" Aglianico del Vulture and Colli di Lapio Irpinia Campi Taurasini

As you can see, Aglianico grapes produce deeply colored wines

Aglianico as the Premier Southern Italian Grape
Aglianico grapes produce a deeply colored, highly acidic and tannic red wine. If this sounds like the recipe for a wine for aging, it certainly is. In their youth, these wines can seem rustic and even brutish. In my recent trials, I have found young Aglianico’s benefit from vigorous decanting and several hours to a day or so of quiet air. Given decanting and air, they blossom into wonderful wines for the dinner table even at a young age. Southern Italian wines made from Aglianico are sometimes referred to as the “Barolo of the South“. No one would confuse Aglianico for Barolo, the color is too deep and the flavor profile is dramatically different. However, age-ability tannin and acid structure are similar, so the point is well made.

Donna Chiara Colli di Lapio Irpinia Campi Taurasini DOC 2011 ($21 at Sunfish Cellars)
The premier area for Aglianico in Campania is the Taurasi area.  A little like Chianti Classico and Chianti, the Taurasi area is surrounded by a larger area, Taurasini. Taurasini wines are more affordable and more approachable in their youth compared to the top Taurasi wines.

Eye: Clear, deep ruby with a garnet edge
Nose: Clean, initially smoky. Dark fruit, figs (like fig newtons) rosemary/pine needles and smoke behind. Not overtly oaky, but a softness in the nose to indicate oak aging. Day 2, violets are now showing with nice fruit along with plenty of earth.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins. After decanting, tannins are fairly refined. Medium+ body, medium alcohol. More earthy than fruity, the wine lingers in a nice tannic finish. 13.5% abv

Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico del Vulture DOCG 2012 ($32 at Sunfish Cellars)
Aglianico del Vulture is the premier region for growing Aglianico grape near the extinct Mt. Vulture volcano. The region earned DOCG status (the highest level in Italian wines) in 2011. There is evidence of a wine press in use in the area back in Roman times, so the wine has been around a while!
Eye: Clear, deep ruby with purple edge
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Deep black/purple fruit. Ripe plums, blackberries. Forest floor and mushrooms. Not overtly oaky. Day 2, nice ripe fruit with a bit of ash, (but not bad), almost like when you burn the outside edge of your toasted marshmallow!
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity, high tannins. After decanting, tannins are fairly refined but bold. Alcohol is listed as 14.5% abv

Our Aglianico Dinner – A16 Meatballs with Roasted Carrots and Snap Peas
Whenever I visit the San Francisco Bay area, I always schedule a visit at one of the A16 restaurants. Lucky for us non-San Francisco natives, there’s an A16 Cookbook (hint, it’s available for under $10 used!) an excellent source for authentic Southern Italian recipes (the A16 is the highway that runs inland from Naples). Their meatball dish is one of the standards at the restaurant, and as a preview to your cookbook purchase you can try the meatball recipe here. You’ll note there is no spaghetti in the photo with the meatballs. This is the authentic Italian way to serve them. Secret suggestion: don’t tell anyone, but they’re also great American style with spaghetti, just use a little more tomatoes when you make the sauce.

Aglianico Shootout?
So how did we like the Aglianico wines with our meal? Aglianico was a nice pairing for the meatballs in tomato sauce. The meaty dish with acidic sauce played well with the structured wines. Overall, I was impressed more by the similarity of the two wines. They were clearly made from the same grape, dark color, dark fruit flavors, abundant acid and tannins, tannic finish. The Donna Chiara displayed riper, cooked fruit aromas versus the cleaner fruit of the Elena Fucci.  Both wines also were more fruity and open on day two compared to day one. Definitely wines to put away for a few years!

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group Explores Aglianico #ItalianFWT
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:

Basilicata vs. Campania, an Aglianico shootout with A16 Meatballs at

20 Responses to “Aglianico Battle between Campania and Basilicata #ItalianFWT”
  1. culinarycam says:

    I’ve been to the Rockridge A16 (Oakland), but never the San Francisco one. Will try it when we can! Thanks for hosting, Jeff.

  2. swanson29 says:

    Hejsan Jeff, Mest uppskattade!🇸🇪 Will share today with two Northwestern colleagues. Gud bevara, Joe

  3. Lynn says:

    Sounds like you’ve had quite a bit of Aglianico Jeff, and easier access to it! Based on your and some of the other #ItalianFWT articles this month, I’m aching to do a line up from the three DOCGs. The A16 meatballs look sweet, thanks for sharing the recipe link …and hint!

  4. Thanks for choosing such a fun topic this month, Jeff. It has inspired me to explore Aglianico in more depth. I really enjoyed these wines! Hope you’re enjoying the snow.

  5. Thanks for the suggestion on the cookbook. Have you tried other recipes in there? I’ll have to check it out. Interesting the wines from both regions were rather similar. I like the comparison of the 2.

  6. Wendy says:

    Fun post Jeff. Enjoyed the comparison and the theme this month. Thanks for hosting.

  7. Thank you for introducing me to Aglianico, great topic for this month. I also used A16 cookbook for my recipe research (love the book, need to get to the restaurant). I almost made the meatballs but was short on time and went for the braised lamb. I do plan to make those meatballs in the near future, of course I’ll need another bottle of Aglianico. Cheers!

  8. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    So nice to have the side by side comparison! And I am definitely going to have to try A16 — it turns out they have a second location in the East Bay nearby in Rockridge.

    • I stopped in at the A16 Rockridge in November on my way to the Wine Bloggers Conference (I really do stop at an A16 every time I come to the Bay Area!). Excellent pizza and killer wine and much much much easier to park than the marina location!

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