Age: Generally requiring 3 to 5 years to soften its tannic structure. Modern production techniques mean that some wines are ready to drink on release.
Aglianico (ahl-YANN-ee-co) is a high quality grape capable of making world class wine and is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. While considered a native Italian variety it is believed to have arrived from Greece in about the sixth century B.C., and its name may have derived from the Italian word for Hellenic or Greek, which is Ellenico. Aglianico is one of southern Italy’s most important grape varieties and is principally grown in the volcanic soils of Campania (where it makes the famous wine Taurasi) and Basilicata (renowned for its Aglianico del Vulture wines).
As it is a late ripening grape it can develop great concentration of fruit flavors. Its thick skin contributes high tannin levels which combined with high acidity can make these powerfully structured wines very harsh in youth. However, this is a wine made for aging and as it matures it develops remarkable complexity and balance. Aromas of black fruits, violets, herbs, leather and smoky notes are followed on the palate by flavors of prunes, blackberries, coffee, chocolate and even tar.
These complex wines are often compared to Italy’s great Barolos (made from the Nebbiolo grape) and are available at a much more affordable price, but you will have to seek them out. The best wines are stunning and can compete with top quality Nebbiolo and Sangiovese wines, but be wary, as many are poor and unexciting. On the bright side, standards are improving and modern wine making techniques mean that many are ready to drink after release. Generally they need 3 to 5 years to soften their tannic structure and the best wines can improve for 10 years or more.
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