Grape Masterclass
Aglianico: One Grape, Three DOCGs

Aglianico: One Grape, Three DOCGs

Introduction

Aglianico is a dark-skinned variety that primarily grows in the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. We like to call this grape “Nebbiolo of the South of Italy” because these two grapes share some common traits.

Specifically, they are both early-budding and late-ripening. And also, they always have high levels of tannin that are somehow a distinctive hallmark, just like for Umbria‘s Sagrantino.

We aren’t here today to discuss Aglianico characteristics, however, you can read more about it in the article “Aglianico: The Distinctive Grape Of Southern Italy“.

Today’s goal is to focus on the three outstanding DOCGs based on this southerly variety.

Figure 1: Feudi di San Gregorio’s vineyards (italianfoodexcellence.com, 2014)

The Three DOCGs

First and foremost, we would like to put Aglianico into perspective. Italy boasts 76 DOCGs to date, with the freshly added Terre Alfieri DOCG, and 3 out of these are made from Aglianico grape.

Where are they made? Well, we already said that this is a southerly variety. But to be more specific, we even tell you that 2 Aglainico DOCGs are from Campania and 1 DOCG is from Basilicata.

Campania

With its 4 DOCGs, Campania is becoming more and more important in the viticultural Italian production. What makes the region special is the different terroir with both the Tyrrhenian Sea and the “Appennini” Mountains.

All the DOCs are worth trying as well and the region offers plenty of them. Don’t forget there is a tiny island which is usually forgotten by everyone: Ischia. This small island with its indigenous grape varieties, such as Biancolella, is always a good idea for wine and food lovers.

Figure 2: Cantine Iorio’s Aglianico del Taburno (cantineiorio.it, 2020)

Aglianico del Taburno

This is the most recent of the 3 DOCGs made from Aglianico. It was promoted to the highest level of the Italian hierarchy only in 2011.

Intense ruby-red in color with purplish highlights. The nose offers up intense aromas of fruit in alcohol, sour cherries, and blackberries, accompanied by delicate hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Elegant and persistent on the palate. A soft and well-orchestrated body, with a mature tannic component and slight astringency devoid of
bitter components.

DOCGsGrapesLaw Requirements
Aglianico del Taburno
min 85% Aglianico

max 15% other authorised red grape varieties (non aromatic)
Standard = min 24 months of aging

Riserva = 36 months, 12 of which in oak barrels (and 6 in the bottle)
Table 1: Aglianico del Taburno DOCG in a snapshot (The Wine Jokers, 2021)

It can be made in three styles: Aglianico del Taburno Rosso, Rosso Riserva and Rosato. By law, it can be made in the communes of:

  • Apollosa;
  • Bonea;
  • Campoli del Monte Taburno;
  • Castelpoto;
  • Foglianise;
  • Montesarchio;
  • Paupisi;
  • Torrecuso;
  • Ponte;

These are the Wine Jokers’ recommendations:

Figure 2: The wonderful Feudi di San Gregorio’s label (andiamotripsblogspot.com, 2014)

Taurasi

Taurasi was granted DOCG status in 1993, making it the oldest of the three DOCGs made from the southerly variety.

Spotting the differences between Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno (and we would even add Aglianico del Vulture…) is impossible. Same grape variety, same terroir, and almost the same style.

However, we held a wine tasting comparing these three DOCGs once, and it turned out that the longer aging requirements required for the Taurasi DOCG can give you some hints.

Look for “sweet” spices such as white pepper, clove, and nutmeg that dominates the nose as well as the palate.

DOCGsGrapesLaw Requirements
Taurasi
min 85% Aglianico

max 15% other authorised red grape varieties (non aromatic)
Standard = 36 months, 12 of which in oak barrels

Riserva = 48 months, 18 of which in oak barrels
Table 2: Taurasi DOCG in a snapshot (The Wine Jokers, 2021)

There are two styles of it which are the Taurasi and Taurasi Riserva. 17 are the communes where it can be made by law. These are among the main ones:

  • Taurasi;
  • Bonito;
  • Castelfranci;
  • Castelvetere sul Calore;
  • Fontanarosa;
  • Lapio;
  • Luogosano;
  • Mirabella Eclano;

The Wine Jokers’ recommendations are:

Figure 3: Picking up a bottle of Paternoster “Don Anselmo” from the cellar (paternosterwine.it, 2020)

Basilicata

The region only boasts one DOCG, and this is the Aglianico del Vulture.

Due to its southerly latitude and climate, you can hardly drink elegant whites in Basilicata. But, full-bodied reds are made here every year. Bold and powerful, these wines have got “strong muscles”. For comparison’s sake, they could be compared to Riservas from Rioja or Ribera del Duoro.

Aglianico del Vulture

Aglianico del Vulture was granted DOCG in 2010 (quite recently).

Its yields are never higher than 5-6 t/ha. The dark ruby color will take a paler garnet color with bottle aging. The aromas are elegant where red dried fruit and black cherry will unleash some hints of licorice, clove, and black pepper after a while on the glass. Being a wine with high structural components such as tannin and acidity, it definitely has aging potential.

DOCGsGrapesLaw Requirements
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore
100% Aglianico and/or Aglianico del VultureStandard = 3 years of aging, 1 of which in oak barrels (and 1 on the bottles)

Riserva = 4 years of aging, 2 of which in oak barrels (and 12 month on the bottle)
Table 3: Aglianco del Vulture DOCG in a snapshot (The Wine Jokers, 2021)

There are two styles: Aglianico del Vulture Superiore and Aglianico del Vulture Superiore Riserva. It can be only produced in the commune of Potenza.

The Wine Jokers’ recommendations are:

Figure 4: It’s finally time to taste these three DOCGs made from Aglianico (youtube.com, 2020)

Conclusions

We hope we persuaded you into trying the 3 DOCGs made from Aglianico. Not only are they very well-suitable for bottle aging, but they are more approachable than other high-tannin wines at a young stage as well.

The ripe black fruits will somehow “mask” the tannin, making the overall wine balanced and well integrated. Its tannins are particularly supple and fruit-wrapped, so don’t appear as prominent as in other wines.

These are only 3 DOCGs. But there are some Italian regions with no DOCGs that are still worth your attention and money.

Pay particular attention to the producers we recommended you as we carefully selected them looking for more affordable awarded wines that we tried in the first place. Give them a shot and let us know what you think in the comments.


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