Life is too short to drink bad wine.
What is Aglianico?
Aglianico (pronounced [aʎˈʎaːniko], roughly “ahl-YAH-nee-koe”) is a black grape grown in Campania, in Southern Italy.
The vine originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers.
The name may be a corruption of vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine.”
Another etymology posits a corruption of Apulianicum, the Latin name for the whole of southern Italy in the time of ancient Rome.
During this period, it was the principal grape of the famous Falernian wine, the Roman equivalent of a first-growth wine today.
The Aglianico vine buds early and grows best in dry climates with generous amounts of sunshine. It has good resistance to outbreaks of iodine, but can be very susceptible to Peronospora. It also has low resistance to botrytis. But since it is much too tannic to make a worthwhile dessert wine, the presence of this noble rot in the vineyard is more of a viticultural hazard than an advantage.
The grape tends to ripen late: Aglianico grape harvest can occur as late as November in some parts of southern Italy. If the grape is picked too early, or with excessive yields, can be aggressively tannic. The vine seems to thrive in particularly volcanic soils.
Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential. The rich flavors of the wine make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats such as lamb. In Campania, the grape has been blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the production of some IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wines.
In its youth, Aglianico is very tannic and concentrated, requiring a few years of aging before it can be approachable. As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced. The trademark coloring of the wine is a deep garnet. In well-made examples of the wine, it can have chocolate and plum aromas.
Aglianico grape harvesting
I followed the pruners for one whole day in their activity during the Aglianico grape harvesting, sharing their meals, and trying not to be too intrusive.
Below you can see the photos and a short video, as a micro-history of a beautiful day.
But you can read them also as a resume of the work involved to create wine from grapes!