Wines made from grapes grown in southern Italy’s volcanic soils are having their moment, whether from Sicily’s Mount Etna, Campania’s Mount Vesuvius, or from the extinct Mount Vulture in Basilicata.
These wines often benefit from two factors: grapes that are grown in cooler, higher elevations, and soils that are rich in volcanic minerals that can create greater complexity in the wines.
One that stands out is the 2015 Aglianico del Vulture from Re Manfredi in Basilicata. Aglianico del Vulture is the region’s main appellation and, as the name suggests, the wine is from the red Aglianico grape grown at the foot of Mount Vulture.
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Aglianico is the most important red variety in this part of Italy and can produce wines that achieve power and depth and have significant aging potential.
The Re Manfredi $34 Aglianico is on the slightly lighter side and is drinking beautifully right now. This is not a wine that shows off but is alluring and memorable in a more subtle and understated way.
We enjoyed it with our own version of spaghetti Bolognese with a classic combination of tomatoes, several meats, and herbs. The wine’s ample acidity and its savory character framed its delicious fruit and provided a refreshing lift to the robust pasta.
Spicy blueberry and plum notes were accented by herbs, earth, a touch of vanilla, and a slight bitterness — a sophisticated and memorable combination.
The wine is a textbook example of why many Italian reds, with their refreshingly high acidity and moderate levels of alcohol (this one is 13.5 percent ABV), are made for dishes like this.
Although it is widely grown in Basilicata, neighboring Campania, and other parts of southern Italy, Aglianico still is not as familiar as it should be to American wine lovers. In fact, it is right up there with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo as one of Italy’s greatest reds.