A properly romantic wine has a sense of adventure. Sara Carbone’s wines from Mount Vulture in Basilicata, Southern Italy bring to mind the line from Descartes about travelling that it “is like talking to men from other centuries.” Not only are her Aglianico del Vulture and Fiano complex and interesting wines in themselves but they are also a journey through Southern Italian history.
The Fiano label (left) tells a love story: Emperor Federick II’s castle for his lover was in the town of Melfi in Basilicata. He was the ruler of Sicily and Southern Italy and the monarchy lasted well into the 18th Century. During the time under the monarchy, Naples was the third largest city in Europe after London and Paris.
Over the past 10 years, winemakers have started to reclaim the wealth of the noble varieties of Fiano and Aglianico found in Basilicata. On the dormant volcano slopes, only 100% Aglianico grapes are permitted in the wine. Sara Carbone is a young winemaker whose family once sold their grapes to the most regarded winemaker in the region, Paternoster, and since 2005, bottles the wine under her own label.
The 2010 Fiano, Basilicata Bianco is an example of the heights this variety can achieve in purity and elegance, whilst the Aglianico del Vulture “400 some” is a wild and earthy wine of prunes, violets and herbal characters (£108 per dozen). The single vineyard Aglianico del Vulture “Stupor Mundi” (wonder of the land) is a heavy, powerful wine full of bruising fruit and mad lava which I believe will shed its weight over the next five years to reveal its pumice-stone core. Like all good wines, I know it tastes of the land but what? I am not sure. It is a wild and dramatic landscape I have never visited, which only makes me want to travel more.
Thanks to Berry Bros and Rudd for organizing 2011 Anteprima Italian Tasting The Grand Tour, 8th September, 2011.