Aglianico Wine Guide

Aglianico grows well in dry climates with excessive sunshine. Image credit: Shutup and Make Wine

This guide to Aglianico wine is part of our grape variety and wine guide series. We take a look at all grape varieties — both famous and obscure. Learn about grapes like Aglianico that are lesser known, but produce gorgeous wines.

What is Aglianico Wine?

Aglianico is a black and blue grape variety that produces predominantly dry red wine.  It is thought to be of Phoenician origin.  This wine was prized and distributed by the Greeks, and thoroughly enjoyed by ancient Roman culture as well.

Today, Aglianico has for the most part disappeared from the Greek islands.  It is now most well known for being grown in the Campania region of Southern Italy.  This region encompasses both beautiful Naples and Salerno.

While the Old World is still the most famous for producing Aglianico, New World Vintners are now making concerted efforts to harness its awesome flavor.  I recently sampled a delicious Aglianico produced in Driftwood, Texas by Duchman Family Winery.  The limestone soil composition, compounded with both the dry and very sunny climate in Driftwood is reminiscent of the terroir in parts of Southern Italy.  Thus making it an ideal location for new world Aglianico vine growth.

Aglianico Wine Guide

New World Vintners in Texas have discovered Aglianico’s potential to thrive within their arid terroir. Image credit: Texas Wine and Trail Magazine

Aglianico Viticulture

Aglianico grape vines tend to grow best in dry and well aerated soil.  They love lots of sunshine, and tend to bud early while ripening late.  Even though the skins of Aglianico pack large amounts of polyphenols (making them heavily tannic), they are surprisingly susceptible to a couple of diseases, particularly noble rot.  Thus, it’s imperative that vines are micromanaged, not overly saturated and harvested on time.

What does Aglianico Wine Taste Like?

The tasting notes of Aglianico have both depth and complexity.  This is a somewhat obscure wine grape that very much deserves more attention for its flavoric profile.

Aglianico most commonly produces full-bodied, dry red wines.  Good wines tend to be refreshingly acidic with gritty tannins and red fruit.  This structural composition actually makes Aglianico ideal for long term aging.

Aglianico should be aged for at least a couple of years before consumption, and while at this point they are still considered young, wines can definitely be drank.  The longer it’s aged, the more rounded the red fruit becomes with the acid and tannic structure mellowing out.  Aged Aglianico is typically more balanced and approachable.

Aglianico Tasting Notes

Common Flavors and Aromas

  • Fruit: Red
  • Earth & Mineral Notes: Limestone, Dust
  • Additional Complexities: Chocolate, Tomato, Mushroom, Red Pepper, Cacao

Structure

  • Body: Full
  • Sugar: Dry
  • Tannins: High
  • Acid: High
  • Alcohol: High (13.0%-14.5% ABV)
  • Finish: Medium-Long

Terroir

  • Soil: Limestone & Clay
  • Climate: Warm, Hot and Sunny
  • Notable Regions: Campania, Italy | Driftwood, Texas | Riverina, Australia | Southern California, USA

Aglianico Food Pairings

Being a big-bodied red wine with a deep tannin structure, consider rich and savory meats.  Ideal to pair with grilled steak, lamb, roasted pork or braised barbecue ribs.  Remember, older Aglianico will pair better with sweet and savory foods, while younger wines are better paired with both spicier dishes.  I tend to enjoy most Mexican and Indian plates with younger Aglianico (good luck finding it in a Mexican or Indian restaurant, but consider buying a bottle and making a dish at home — you won’t regret it).

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