Italy Today

How to select Aglianico, a lesser-known but delicious Italian wine

It is broadly underappreciated, but savory and robust enough to intensify the taste of good meat

How to select Aglianico, a lesser-known but delicious Italian wine

Claudia Astarita

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Aimed at proving that even when compared to Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino lesser-known wines have nothing to envy, a panel of American experts tasted a few bottles of Aglianicos, the Italian red from Campania, learning that it is a matter of flavors and nuances selection to find good labels among this variety of red wines.

Aglianico is indeed the primary red grape of Campania and Basilicata, two regions located in the south of Italy. Although it has been nicknamed "the Barolo of the South",  and no matter its unquestionable qualities, as aglianico has much to offer of its own, it is not that famous and appreciated beyond Italian borders.

It is interesting to learn that all the experts that have been included in this experimental wine-taste shared the perception that aglianico is broadly underappreciated. One of the reason, at least in the U.S., is that wine taster seems more inclined to appreciate lighter and softer wines, as  the popularity recently gained by red wines of Sicily, which tend to be fresher and easier going, further confirms.

Aglianico cannot be considered a heavy wine; however, it is true that some of its variety can benefit a lot in terms of texture and density by aging. However, what this group of experts learned during this aglianico wine taste session was that some bottles are actually immediately approachable. In order to identify the best aglianico, it is useful to know that it has a wide range of appellations. Taurasi is the most famous, prestigious and expensive (bottle can cost from $30 to $65), followed by Aglianico del Taburno, Irpinia, and Aglianico del Vulture.

For those looking for some suggestion on which bottle to taste first, the panel selected the 2008 Macchia dei Goti Taurasi from Antonio Caggiano as the best one, followed by the 2006 Taurasi from Salvatore Molettieri, because of their versatility of textures and densities. They are savory and robust enough to intensify the taste of good meat, especially if you are thinking about steaks and grilled sausages.

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