Take a bite: Aglianico del Vulture DOC

Aglianico del Vulture dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2007

The first taste of Aglianico is like a volcanic eruption in rewind: a hundred blasts, shreds of mineral rock followed by a fierce lava cooling down into black smoke puffing back into the top of the mountain, overgrown with herbs, cool as graphite and purring, velvet and deep, as if nothing had happened. The consensus amongst wine lovers is that Aglianico is due for a spectacular resurge any day now. There are two major Aglianico styles in the South of Italy, Tuarasi DOCG and Aglianico del Vulture DOC (why this is not a DOCG is one of those cruel twists of Italian law^) a 100% Aglianico style grown on the side of the volcano, Mount Vulture. At the core of the wine is a complex profile of black fruit, licorice, firm tannins and good acidity with a perfume of violet, sour cherry and leather. The vineyards are high on the mountain which gives the wine an uplifting freshness. The large personality reminds me of a Barossa Shiraz or Californian Zinfandel, but instead of sinking into DEPTHS of sometime syrup, this wine becomes all about HEIGHT: the unique mineral effect lifts the fruit up so there is a space underneath as if jumping from a high diving board for a few seconds before reaching the water. Remember this is an Italian wine, so it’s all about leaving space for the food: big flavours such as salami and smoky scarmorza mozzarella.

Feudi di San Gregorio wines are made by the well-respected Italian enologist Riccardo Cotarella* who is a master of the Aglianico grape in South Italy. Aglianico del Vulture DOC is in Basilicata, an ancient, small, agricultural region of Italy and struggles with the infrastructure needed to distribute their wines well, so even though they are excellent value, they are not seen on the shelves enough for lovers of full-bodied, long-lasting, volcanic Italian reds.

Stay tuned for the video!

Image: Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassell

Link More about Feudi di San Gregorio

^There are plans to change from DOC to DOCG for 2010 vintage

*See comments below

Spectacular Mount Etna DOC

This is what gives Mount Etna DOC wines their character.

Last night, Mount Etna erupted for 2 hours. Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano, replenishing the region’s soil every few years with hot lava music.

The black volcanic soil filters the strong flavours of grapes ripened under the Sicilian sun. This makes the wines from Mount Etna powerful, yet distinctly soft with a mineral taste.

Technical information: Mount Etna DOC

Red Grape Varieties: Nerello mascalese, Nerello mantallato

White Grape Varieties: Carricante, Catarratto bianco

Recommended wines:

Red: Etna Rosso DOC 2007, Cantine Nicosia, Sicilia (80% Nerello Mascalese, 20% Nerello Mantallato)

White: 2009 Planeta Carricante, Mount Etna, IGT Sicilia

Image and Link: “Red Sky at Night… Mount Etna erupts in spectacular fashion” (Daily Mail, 13 Jan 2011)