A region in the Central Italy is being revived after a long decline due to the changing tides of globalization.
The picturesque region of Piedmont has long been known as Italy’s hidden treasure—a land of fertile valleys and ancient farming traditions. However, in the past few years, its wine-making scene has been rejuvenated with a new generation of winemakers and their exciting new wines.
The southern Italian region of Lazio, or “Latium,” is famous for a number of things—including ancient ruins, the Coliseum, and some of the finest wines in the world. But until recently, little was known about Lazio’s wine heritage, which thrived for centuries and was crucial when the Romans first settled the area.. Read more about aglianico wine and let us know what you think.
A hilly, wild region may be found in the northernmost province of Basilicata, which extends up from the arch of Italy’s boot. It is more reminiscent of the cold Alps in the north than of the pleasant climates of the south. There is a patchwork of historic villages strewn amid the undulating hillsides that house some of the country’s most intriguing, intensely expressive wines, centered around the extinct Monte Vulture volcano.
The Aglianico del Vulture Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), which was created in 1971, and the Superiore Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), which was formed in 2010 and is the only DOCG in Basilicata, are both located in the area.
Aglianico is a late-ripening type that benefits from the area’s cold, dry but sunny, mountainous environment and produces dynamic, structured reds that may offer both strength and elegance in equal measure.
Commercial winemaking has been practiced in the area for over a century, but a new generation of winemakers has resurrected this ancient region. To get the most out of Italy’s most active wine area, get to know these wineries.
Rocco D’Angelo, winemaker, and Erminia D’Angelo, export manager, of D’Angelo, from left to right / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi
Winemaker Rocco D’Angelo
Export Manager Erminia D’Angelo
D’Angelo, one of Vulture’s oldest and most renowned vineyards, treads a delicate balance between history and innovation. The family-run winery has a century of history, and during the first several decades, it was mostly in the bulk wine business—a tale repeated across southern Italy.
The winery didn’t change its emphasis until the 1950s, when it started to bottle only its own wine under the Casa Vinicola D’Angelo label. It was one among the first wineries to make Aglianico del Vulture DOC bottles. The winery is operated by a sister-brother duo: Erminia, who handles the commercial side of the company, and Rocco, who is the winemaker and vineyard manager.
Erminia and Rocco followed in their father Lucio’s footsteps when he died in 2007. “My brother and I began managing the winery when we were quite young,” Erminia explains. “However, since our childhood house is on the top floor of the vineyard, we grew up playing between barrels and barrique.”
D’Angelo export manager Erminia D’Angelo and winemaker Rocco D’Angelo (from left to right) / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi
Traditional techniques are used to vinify their red wines in the winery’s huge concrete tanks, which were built in the early 1960s. Maceration, fermentation, and aging take place in the tanks. “With the concrete tanks, you get gradual and natural aging with excellent micro-oxygenation of the wine,” Erminia says, emphasizing the importance of appropriate Aglianico development.
While the winery’s production facilities are located in Vulture’s Rionero, its approximately 62 acres of vines are located in the neighboring towns of Barile and Maschito.
The Barile vineyards are located at the base of Monte Vulture, at an elevation of approximately 1,300 feet, with volcanic tuff dominating the soils. The Maschito vineyards are located farther down the hill, in a warmer climate with clay-rich soils. This variety of location adds to the winery’s array of Aglianico expressions.
Barile produces zesty, mineral-driven wines that reflect the volcanic soils under the Aglianico del Vulture, Caselle, and Canneto labels. Tecum is made from 80-year-old Maschito vines, producing a deep, dense, and earthy flavor.
Elena Fucci’s Agribusiness
Elena Fucci, Winemaker/Owner
Fucci, a native of Barile, grew up desiring more than a quiet hamlet in the shadow of Monte Vulture could provide. Her parents, who were both teachers, encouraged her to pursue her interests. Fucci was dead bent on leaving Barile behind by the time she started university.
All of that changed in 2000, when her grandpa, Generoso, decided to sell the property where she and her family had grown up, which comprised almost 15 acres of Aglianico planted on the highest portion of the contrada Solagna del Titolo. Fucci had a change of heart when faced with the possibility of losing the property her grandpa had maintained since the 1960s. In the same year, she established her eponymous winery while studying viticulture and oenology at the University of Pisa.
“I began making one wine since I only had one vineyard,” Fucci explains of her Titolo bottling, which is named for the contrada in where the vineyard is located. “Perhaps I just make one label, but it’s better.”
Elena Fucci / Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi photo
In the year 2000, she began producing a meager 1,200 bottles of Titolo. Since then, production has increased to 25,000–30,000 bottles. Even so, it’s only about half of what the Aglianico del Vulture DOC allows for a plot of her size. Fucci’s portfolio has also grown, although insignificantly.
The 2017 vintage was the first release of Titolo by Amphora, which spends 10 months in untreated Italian terra cotta. She more recently released Titolo Pink, an Aglianico rosato made from her vineyard’s youngest vines, between six and 10 years old. Perhaps her most endearing addition is the Sceg bottling. It comes from four plots of neighboring vineyards owned by friends of her grandfather.
The sites were in danger of being abandoned or sold. Elena decided in 2016 to preserve their vineyards and produce a wine in their honor, hoping to perpetuate the history of these 70-plus-year-old Aglianico grapes.
In Arbresh, the local dialect spoken by the residents of the region, including Elena and her family, who are descendants of Albanian refugees, sceg means pomegranate. Sceg brings fresh life to almost forgotten vines while shedding light on a culture that is slowly disappearing.
Andrea Piccin, co-owner/sales manager, and Lorenzo Piccin, co-owner/winemaker, of Grifalco, from left to right. Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi’s photo
Andrea Piccin, Sales Manager and Co-Owner
Co-owner and winemaker Lorenzo Piccin
Wineries that push the boundaries of their areas are often headed by individuals who think beyond the box. They take cues from other regions’ winemaking and viticultural techniques. The finest do so with a deep respect for their surroundings and terroir. Grifalco is my name. The company was established in 2004 by Fabrizio and Cecilia Piccin.
The pair brought their expertise and experience to Basilicata after spending more than a decade in Tuscany, where they owned and managed the Salcheto estate in Montepulciano.
Tuscany had a boom in the 1990s, with investors snapping up homes. The Piccins took advantage of the chance to sell their winery and seek for other opportunities in other parts of Italy.
“Aglianico and the Vulture region were totally unknown back then,” Andrea, Fabrizio and Cecilia’s son, explains. “So, if you wanted to make a monetary investment, Vulture was the place to go.”
Andrea, who handles the commercial side of the company, and his brother Lorenzo, who is the winemaker, currently lead the winery. They bring a fresh sense of purpose and determination, yet they remain grateful for their parents’ wisdom and experience.
Lorenzo Piccin, co-owner/winemaker, and Andrea Piccin, co-owner/sales manager, of Grifalco, from left to right / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi
“When my father arrived here, one of the greatest things he did was not purchase one large piece of property surrounding the cellar,” Lorenzo explains.
“Instead, he purchased several plots in other communities. He thought this location was fantastic since each town could have its own microclimate, terroir, and soil composition.” The family owns approximately 40 acres of organically cultivated vines in Venosa, Ginestra, Maschito, and Forenza, which are scattered over four towns.
Vine age ranges from 10 to 80 years, and each parcel is fermented separately. Lorenzo draws inspiration from Piedmont, where he studied viticulture and oenology. The superficial ties between Nebbiolo and Aglianico are nothing new—both yield tannic, ageworthy wines that express terroir.
He chose to employ the traditional Barolo method of prolonged maceration in 5,500-liter oak vats for the two cru wines, Daginestra and Damaschito.
The wines gently extract with little pumpovers over a 50–60 day period. The resultant wines are delicate but ageworthy after two additional years of refinement in big oak and one in bottle.
Paternoster winemaker Fabio Mecca / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi
Winemaker Fabio Mecca
This ancient winery, founded by Anselmo Paternoster in 1925, is one of Vulture’s distinguishing cornerstones.
It has changed with the times and is a pioneer in introducing a more contemporary winemaking technique to the region. Pino, Anselmo’s son, was a driving force behind this call to modernity as one of the area’s first professionally educated winemakers. In the 1970s, he and other ancient vineyards, like as D’Angelo, spearheaded the push to bottle Aglianico under the newly authorized DOC.
Furthermore, professional training in the mid-’80s and early ’90s prompted him to forego the more frequently utilized local chestnut barrels in favor of Slavonian and French oak, resulting in a more refined expression. Fabio Mecca, winemaker and fourth generation Paternoster, is now in charge of the winery.
He is carrying on the tradition, making a variety of Aglianico and Falanghina bottlings from 50 acres of organic vines in Barile.
“It’s simple for us [to be organic] up to a point,” Mecca adds. “Because we are [2,132 feet] above sea level, we are extremely well ventilated in this zone.” He is quick to point out, though, that the region is not without its challenges. Aglianico is a late-ripening cultivar that is typically picked between the end of October and the beginning of November. Because weather conditions may be unexpected thus late in the season, meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard is essential to ensuring optimum maturity.
Paternoster produces approximately 100,000 bottles per year, making it a modest business with just six wines in its current range. The entry-level Synthesi bottling, an Aglianico from a mix of vineyards in Barile, accounts for the majority of the production. The estate’s best Aglianicos come from Rotondo and Don Anselmo, two single vines. The first is the present contemporary wine cellar, which Pino bought in the mid-1970s, and the second is a low-yielding property named after the winery’s founder.
Paternoster was acquired by Tommasi Family Estates in 2016 and is currently handled by the Veneto-based winery. Mecca continues to oversee the winemaking, and the wines now have a distribution network spanning about 30 countries.
Basilisco’s general manager/winemaker, Ilaria Magliocchetti photographed Viviana Malafarina. Lombi
General Manager/Winemaker Viviana Malafarina
It takes a unique kind of person to look after some of Italy’s oldest vines while simultaneously preserving a winery built in the 16th century that stands above caverns excavated a century before. Malafarina is the ideal candidate for this position.
Her route was winding and winding. She worked as a cook and sailor on a superyacht and then as a tour guide on the Orient Express, catering to passengers from all over the globe, after obtaining a degree in Slavic languages and teaching for a year in Kiev, Ukraine. She met Antonio Capaldo, head of the Campanian company Feudi di San Gregorio, who offered her the position of managing his recently purchased Vulture venture, Basilisco, there.
In 2011, Malafarina relocated to Barile to begin her new job. She fell in love with the neighboring vineyards immediately, where she worked with Pierpaolo Sirch, Feudi di San Gregorio’s agronomist. With the assistance of a few consulting winemakers, notably Lorenzo Landi and Denis Dubourdieu, she began to work more in the cellar over time. She has been in charge of winemaking since 2013.
She frequently works alone in the basement since her yearly output is just 65,000 bottles. Her jurisdiction also extends to the approximately 60 acres of organically cultivated vineyards. She vinifies each vineyard individually to best reflect the distinct soil, aspect, and elevation of each, as a self-described “soil fanatic.”
Viviana Malafarina / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti
Later, she chooses to combine the wines, as she does with her Teodosio and Basilisco labels, or to bottle them individually, as she does with her three Aglianico crus: Cruà, Fontanelle, and Storico. These are temporal and location microexpressions. For Malafarina, they’re all labors of love, but one in particular has a special place in her heart.
The Storico vineyard is a roughly five-acre parcel of ungrafted Aglianico that has been planted using the capanno training technique, a medieval trellising system. It’s a living museum of vines with yields less than a tenth of what the Aglianico del Vulture DOC allows. “Everyone is striving to go back in time” in the wine industry. To return to genuineness, to the ancient days,” Malafarina says. “We are still in Basilicata,” says the narrator.
Carmelitano Mustard Winery’s Elisabetta Musto Carmelitano and Luigi Carmelitano / Photo by Ilaria Magliocchetti Lombi
Luigi Musto Carmelitano and Elisabetta Musto Carmelitano
Musto Carmelitano is a tiny, family-run business that shows what a hands-off approach to winemaking can accomplish with old-vine fruit. The winery, which is located in Maschito, was constructed in 2006 and is run by Elisabetta and Luigi, a sister and brother duo. While the winery has only been around for a few years, the family’s presence in the region and interest in the property dates back generations.
Elisabetta and Luigi were lucky to acquire approximately 7.5 acres of vineyards distributed over three locations planted to Aglianico grapes ranging in age from 30 to 80 years old when they established the winery in the mid-2000s. Their grandpa and uncle established the two oldest vineyards, Pian del Moro and Serra del Prete.
While all of these vineyards are in the Maschito municipality, the soil composition differs between them, resulting in varied results. The oldest of the two vineyards, Pian del Moro, has a black, sandy soil with calcareous components. Because of the high volcanic content of the soil, it is resistant to phylloxera, and many of the vines are used to graft into the estate’s other vineyards. The soil types of the Serra del Prete range from clay-driven veins to well-draining, rocky terra rossa, as well as some white calcareous soil.
“Obviously, the whole region is made up of these variations in soil colors,” Elisabetta adds. “However, the clay-driven component, which feeds the roots and also aids in droughts, is what connects them.”
The estate’s finest Aglianico expressions are the Pian del Moro and Serra del Prete bottlings. The former, following a more conventional route, spends a year in used tonneaux, resulting in a refined, ageworthy Aglianico with deft oak usage. The latter takes a more adventurous route, starting the fermentation using a pied de cuve obtained from the vineyard. It then spends six months in stainless steel and six months on concrete, resulting in a crisp, juicy red wine with delicate tannins—a type of Aglianico not often seen in an area renowned for robust reds.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- italian wine
- italian wine regions
- aglianico wine
- campania wine folly
- basilicata wine