Discover the hidden gem of Southern Italy

As fall and winter arrive, it’s time to say goodbye to refreshing, crisp whites and rosés and embrace the rich, robust reds. Among the great red grapes in the world, Aglianico is one of Italy's greatest hidden treasures. Known for its capacity to create wines of outstanding complexity, depth, and aging potential, Aglianico provides wine lovers with a one-of-a-kind and enjoyable experience.

What is the history of Aglianico?

The history of Aglianico can be traced back to centuries ago when the ancient Greeks brought this distinguished grape to southern Italy. Its name actually comes form the word “Elliniko”, which means Greek. Aglianico found its ideal habitat in this place characterized by fertile soil and a Mediterranean climate.

Before the disastrous Phylloxera pandemic, Aglianico was widely planted throughout the South of Italy. Unfortunately, only a handful of vineyards were able to survive. Today, the primary areas where Aglianico is largely cultivated are the regions of Campania and Basilicata.

What does Aglianico taste like?

Aglianico possesses captivating characteristics, including a harmonious blend of black and red fruit aromas, high levels of tannins, naturally high acidity, and earthy, herbaceous notes. The combination of these elements results in wines that exhibit both structure and elegance, while also possessing a great aging potential that distinguishes them from others.

Aglianico growing in Mount Vulture (Photo: Sylvia Ba)

Campania: Home of Aglianico

Campania is the cradle of Aglianico. The subregions best known for Aglianico in Campania—Taurasi and Taburno—take center stage.

Taurasi DOCG, known as "Barolo in the South," is the best representative of Aglianico over the world. The Taurasi DOCG is located in the province of Avellino, featuring vineyards on the rolling hills. Today, we can still find some pre-phylloxera old vines of Aglianico in those vineyards. Taurasi DOCG wines must contain at least 85% Aglianico, while many producers prefer the pure 100% to highlight the grape's grandeur.

Aglianico del Taburno DOCG, on the other hand, experiences hot days and cool nights due to the cooling effect of the surrounding mountains. Taburno's terroir differs from Taurasi's in that it has sandstone as well as volcanic materials and calcareous clay. As a result, Aglianico del Taburno has a lighter profile than Taurasi, providing a more delicate canvas for the interesting qualities of the grape.

Aglianico is the king of Campania region (Photo: Ken Sono,

Aglianico del Vulture, a Volcanic Offering from Basilicata

While Campania may be more famous over the world, Mount Vulture, an old and extinct volcano, is where Aglianico really thrives in Italy. Aglianico del Vulture DOC represents the purest expression of the grape, requiring an immaculate 100% Aglianico. The drastic temperature change between the daytime and night in the vineyards on the slopes of Mount Vulture helps the grapes develop a balanced, complex flavor profile. Unlike Campania, Mount Vulture's soil is largely volcanic in nature, giving the wines a distinct smokiness and mineral depth that sets them apart from Campania's counterparts.

Basilicata is where Aglianico originates (Photo Giulia Gasperini,

Aglianico Beyond Borders

Aglianico's allure extends beyond its home Campania and Basilicata. Aglianico is grown in the inland, mountainous areas of Puglia and is produced as a varietal wine as well as a nice blending partner for local grapes such as Primitivo. Small but noticeable percentages of Aglianico can also be found in Abruzzo, Molise, and Sicily, showcasing the grape's adaptability to a wide range of terroirs.

While Italy is the hub of Aglianico, its global reach is expanding. It has significant planting areas in California and in Australia. Initially brought to the New World wine regions by the Italian descendants, or as experimental plantings, Aglianico has proven to be extremely tolerant of dry, warm conditions, while maintaining a pleasant acidity and structure. This character makes Aglianico a favored variety by many winemakers, especially with climate change, its presence is now expanding globally.

Aglianico Food Pairing

As we embark on the culinary journey of pairing Aglianico with delightful dishes, it is important to understand Aglianico's versatility. Aglianico can have a diverse flavor profile, ranging from lighter and approachable to robust and opulent. Some Aglianico wines show more fruity characters, while others may be earthy and mineral.

Despite the variations, Aglianico is an excellent fall and winter wine. This robust grape complements rich meats, savory stews, and pasta topped with a creamy ragu. Its high acidity offsets the greasiness of the meals, and the robust tannins pair beautifully with red meats.

However, as a versatile grape, lighter-styled Aglianico pairs nicely with well-seasoned roasted chicken or turkey with its dried herb and licorice flavors, making it ideal for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

So, dear VinoVossers, having acquainted yourselves with Aglianico, are you now eager to try the wines that exude elegance, richness, and complexity? Whether your palate craves the robust and age-worthy Taurasi, the mineral-driven Aglianico from Mount Vulture, or a New World interpretation of this grape, rest assured that Aglianico promises to delight both novice wine lovers and the most discerning connoisseurs.

Aglianico Wines to Try:

Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi

Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico del Vulture

Giornata Luna Matta Vineyard Aglianico

Cheers from the VinoVoss team!

Sylvia Ba

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