Aglianico: Wine’s Best Kept Secret

Food Pairings and Recommended Wines at the end!

I was fortunate to be a Sommelier at an Italian restaurant of a world famous celebrity chef that had an Award Winning wine list.  I mention this not to brag, but Italian wine is a big hole for many Sommeliers, wine drinkers and I’m thankful for all that I learned.

Italy has some of the most food-friendly wines in the world.  Italy also has more wine regions and grape varieties than any other wine country in the world, yet most people are only familiar with Chianti and Pinot Grigio.

My fellow winos are probably quite familiar with Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello Di Montalcino and Amarone, yet not as many people are as familiar with them as you might think.  Barolo after all is known as the Wine of Kings and some say the greatest wine in the world that trumps the First Growths of Bordeaux.

My focus today is the grape known as Aglianico.  Aglianico is indigenous to the Italian Wine Regions of Campania, Basilicata and goes by Aglianico Del Vulture, Aglianico or Taurasi.  Taurasi is to Aglianico as Barolo is to Nebbiolo.  In fact, Aglianico is known as “The Barolo of the South.”

Styles of Aglianico

From Campania:  More earthy tones, espresso and notes of cocoa, but shows great fruit with age.

From Basilicata:  More Fruit Forward with hints of Smoke and Spice.

Aglianico shares a lot in common with the characteristics of Barolo:  Rose Petals, Violets, Truffles, Tobacco, Dried Cherries and Licorice.  Aglianico is rustic, full-bodied, tannic, has high acidity and can age for decades.  When it ages well it is as elegant and smooth as Barolo.  2004 was a terrific vintage.

Why do I believe Aglianico is wine’s best kept secret? Because it’s half the price of Barolo!

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty that aren’t so great when you buy it super cheap, but for $30 to $60 you can have the same experience you would on a Barolo that will run you over $100.  There are also dynamite Aglianicos for $15 a bottle.

Taurasi is my favorite expression of Aglianico.  Some of my favorite producers are Mastroberardino, Feudi Di San Gregorio and Villa Matilde.  Some of you following my blog are not here in The U.S., so I’m not sure what the availability of Italian wine is in your countries, but snatch it up if you can find it.

Aglianico Pairings

  • Game
  • Strong Cheese
  • Osso Bucco
  • Roasted Meats
  • Lamb
  • Steak
  • Meatballs or Pastas with Meat Sauce
  • Spicy and Rich Dishes

Recommended Wines:

  • Mastroberardino, Taurasi, “Radici” 2004
  • Feudi Di San Gregorio, Taurasi 2004
  • Bisceglia, Aglianico Del Vulture, “Gudarra” 2006 or 2008
  • Villa Matilde Aglianico 2008
  • Feudi Di San Gregorio, Aglianico, “Rubrato” 2010

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