Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro
August 9, 2021 | Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro

Learn Italian (Varietals)... Aglianico

My absolute favorite wine author, Karen MacNeil, described Aglianico in her book, The Wine Bible, as “Almost blackish color with fascinating bitter chocolate, leather, and tar aromas and flavors. . . dark, foreboding wine with delicious severity.” If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.  

Referred to as the “Barolo of the South”, Aglianico is a black grape variety from Southern Italia. Pronounced “All-yee-an-ico”, it thrives in the fertile winemaking regions of Basilicata and Campania. It’s no surprise, as the Greeks referred to the area as “Oenotria” meaning “land of wine”.  

Together with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, it’s one of Italy’s most notable varieties. Slow to ripen, thick-skinned and intense, these grapes yield wines with character, high tannins, and deep color. Like rustic, feet-on-the-ground wines? Aglianico is for you! 

Aglianico grapes love the sun and drier climates of southern Italy, but they also thrive right here in Southern California and Australia. Made properly, it’s a structured, lively, versatile wine with a minerality that can be enjoyed young or with some time in the cellar. This is a varietal that may be set aside for tens of years, should you choose to set a case aside for an occasion down the line. One more quote from a noteworthy wine author, Ian d”Agata, if you’ll indulge me.  

“Along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, it (Aglianico) is generally believed to be one of Italy’s three best wine grapes, but in my opinion, it is far more: At the very least, it’s one of the world’s dozen or so best wine grapes.” 


2016 Aglianico Tasting Notes 

Fresh plum, soft licorice, and vanilla on the palate with a potpourri of aromatics on the nose. Our Estate grown Aglianico emphasizes true varietal characteristics, making it an excellent candidate for cellar aging. It’s also a crowd-pleaser amongst those who enjoy very rich, dry red wines with firm, gripping tannins. Aged in oak for fourteen months, it’s truly a well-balanced, age-worthy wine. 


Pairing Notes  

With an undercurrent of minerality, earthiness, forest floor, mushrooms, and dark red fruits, this wine pairs well with rich meat dishes. The intense structure of our BOTTAIA Aglianico holds up to stronger flavor profile dishes such as barbecue beef brisket, smoked pork, pecorino cheese + smoked mushrooms. Try it out with spicy sausages, beef stew, or pasta topped with meat ragu. Plant-based? Go for veggie dishes featuring tempeh, roasted mushrooms, and all things umami. 

Ready to taste some of our 2016 Aglianico? Order a few bottles to enjoy “a casa” (at home). Then, make a tasting room reservation and be sure to inquire about our Bottaia Wine Club by clicking here or calling (951) 365-3388. We look forward to seeing you soon. Saluté! 


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