Salvatore Molettieri Irpinia Aglianico 2014
Excellent with game, red meat dishes and medium seasoned cheese.
A winemaking renaissance is underfoot in Campania as more and more small, artisan and family-run wineries redefine their style with vineyard improvements and cellar upgrades. The region boasts a cool Mediterranean climate with extreme coastal, as well as high elevation mountain terroirs. It is cooler than one might expect in Campania; the region usually sees some of the last harvest dates in Italy.
Just south of Mount Vesuvio, the volcanic and sandy soils create aromatic and fresh reds based on Piedirosso and whites, made from Coda di Volpe and Falanghina. Both reds and whites go by the name, Lacryma Christi, meaning the "tears of Christ." South of Mount Vesuvio, along the Amalfi Coast, the white varieties of Falanghina and Biancolella make fresh, flirty, mineral-driven whites, and the red Piedirosso and Sciasinoso vines, which cling to steeply terraced coastlines, make snappy and ripe red wines.
Farther inland, as hills become mountains, the limestone soil of Irpinia supports the whites Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina and Greco di Tufo as well as the most-respected red of the south, Aglianico. Here the best and most age-worthy examples come from Taurasi.
Farther north and inland near the city of Benevento, the Taburno region also produces Aglianico of note—called Aglianico del Taburno—on alluvial soils. While not boasting the same heft as Taurasi, these are also reliable components of any cellar.
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.