Giornata Aglianico French Camp Vineyard 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, powerful, fruit-driven wines. But with eleven smaller sub-AVAs, there is actually quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.
Just east over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the chilly Pacific Ocean, lie the coolest in the region: Adelaida, Templeton Gap and (Paso Robles) Willow Creek Districts, as well as York Mountain AVA and Santa Margarita Ranch. These all experience more ocean fog, wind and precipitation compared to the rest of the Paso sub-appellations. The San Miguel, (Paso Robles) Estrella, (Paso Robles) Geneso, (Paso Robles) Highlands, El Pomar and Creston Districts, along with San Juan Creek, are the hotter, more western appellations of the greater Paso Robles AVA.
This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Grenache and Rhône blends, both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruit-driven, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.
Taking its home in the mountainous southern Italian regions of Campania and Basilicata, Aglianico is a bold red variety that needs a long hang time to fully develop and is actually one of the very last of the Italian red varieties to be harvested each year. It often spends until November on the vine and pushing it any faster often leads to rough and untamable tannins.
The name “Aglianico” bears striking resemblance to Ellenico, the Italian word for "Greek," but no evidence shows it having any ancestry in Greece. However, first documentation of its plantings appear around an ancient Greek colony located in the lush hills of present-day Avellino, Campania. It thrives there today as the exclusive variety in the strikingly delicious and age-worthy, red wine called Taurasi. While maybe not as popular as Brunello or Barolo, among Italy’s noble reds, it certainly can boast the same aging potential. Aglianico also has great success in volcanic soils such as those found in Basilicata where it makes the robust, Aglianico del Vulture. It is also found scattered throughout vineyards in Calabria, Puglia and Molise.
The best Aglianicos are rustic and earthy, deep in color with dried fig, plum, blackberry, black pepper and dark chocolate. Full of fine-grained tannins, Aglianico has good acidity and an intense, lingering finish. Aglianico is fantastic alongside roasted or grilled meats, anything with black truffles and aged cheeses.