You might not have heard of it, but Aglianico is the great red variety of Italy’s south, producing wines of intensity and complexity that rival the reds made from Sangiovese in Tuscany and Nebbiolo in Piedmont.

The grape is in its element in the volcanic soils of Campania, where the leading winery, Mastroberardino, produces an Aglianico of outstanding value, the under-$20 Irpinia Aglianico “Re di More.”

Mastroberardino Irpinia Aglianico ‘Re di More’ 2017, Campania, Italy

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The wine is from Campania’s Irpinia region, within which lies Taurasi, the most famous appellation for Aglianico.

While its Taurasi wines are at the top of its lineup (with prices to match), Mastroberardino’s 2017 Irpinia Aglianico “Re di More” gives us an excellent introduction to the grape.

Re di More means “king of the blackberries,” and the aromas and tastes do evoke both blackberries and crushed black cherries. There is an attractive earthiness to the wine as well, with suggestions of mushrooms and leather on the nose and red and black licorice on the palate.

The earth and ripe-fruit character call to mind a fruit orchard in late summer or fall, and the wine begs for heartier dishes, including roasts and slow-cooked sauces with meat or vegetables.

Fine tannins, moderate alcohol, and refreshing acidity combine in a wine of depth and character that is among the top moderately priced Italian reds I’ve tasted recently.

It’s a reminder of the great breadth and diversity of Italy’s indigenous grapes, many of which are still undiscovered or under-appreciated by American wine lovers. They include Campania’s Aglianico, Fiano, and Greco varieties, which Mastroberardino is largely responsible for preserving and reviving.

If you haven’t tried Aglianico, Mastrobrerardino’s Re di More is a great place to start and will not disappoint.

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