Friday, December 31, 2021

Why Aren't You Drinking More Aglianico?

Happy New Year Italian wine loving friends!  I'm thrilled to start the New Year featuring one of my favorite Italian red native grapes, Aglianico.  Our host this month for our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group (#ItalianFWT), Camilla, broached the topic and I jumped right on board.  I've written a piece in the past comparing Aglianico to Nebbiolo from Northern Italy, but Aglianico deserves attention in its own right.  

The Grape ~ Aglianico

Aglianico, pronounced "ah-lee-ah-knee-co", is an Italian native grape found in southern Italy, mostly in the Campania and Basilicata wine regions.  It's a dark, almost black colored, grape that buds early, but is harvested late.  It is thick skinned resulting in wines that are darkly colored, high in acidity and tannins along with a full body.  These wines also have great potential for aging.  They are typically complex with great structure showing pure red fruits that are savory and earthy not heavily masked by oak.  

The Wine Regions ~ Campania and Basilicata

Aglianico loves sunshine and dry climates and grows particularly well in the volcanic soils of both Campania and Basilicata.  Volcanic wines are unique lending minerality to the wines.

Campania is home to a couple DOCG's that feature the Aglianico grape.  One of the most known and respected DOCGs throughout Italy for Aglianico is the Taurasi DOCG.  Located in the Irpinia appellation, the eastern part of Campania bordering the Puglia and Basilicata regions, this DOCG was the first in southern Italy established in 1993.  The Taurasi vineyards are located outside of Avellino in the area of one of Europe's most active volcanoes, Mt. Vesuvius.  These wines require a minimum of 85% Aglianico and must be aged at least 3 years with at least 1 year in wood.  The Riserva wines require an additional year with 18 months spent in wood.

Also in Campania in the Sannio appellation is the Aglianico del Taburno DOCG established in 2011.  Along with Taurasi and Aglianco del Vulture we'll be discussing, this is the 3rd biotype of Aglianico also known as Aglianoc Taburno hailing from the area of Taburno.  These wines also require a minimum of 85% Agliancio with 2+ years aging and Riserva wines requiring 3+ years (6 months in bottle) and 13%+ alcohol.

Aglianico grape of southern Italy
Aglianico grapes, copyright of Consorzio di Tutela Aglianico del Vulture

The Basilicata wine region, just to the east of Campania, hosts both a DOC and DOCG with Aglianico via Aglianico del Vulture DOC and Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG.  These vineyard sites are located in the northern part of the Basilicata and are both made from 100% Aglianico.   The wines from the DOC cannot be released before September 1st a year after the harvest where the DOCG wines require 3+ years with 1 year spent in wood and 1 year in bottle.  The Riserva DOCG wines require 2+ years in wood with 1 year in bottle and cannot be released before November 1st until 5 years after harvest.

The Wines

Unfortuately, I don't have any particular wines to share today as my local wine shop didn't have any and I didn't have any in my stash as well.  2022 I believe is the year I venture out into purchasing wine online since my time is always very limited to try and seek out particular wines that just sometimes aren't in abundance in my area.  You can view some of my older posts with an Aglianico from Grifalco in the Basilicata and another Aglianico from the Basilicata from D'Angelo or even this Aglianico from Donnachiara in Campania.

I loves Aglianico due to their quality price ratio.  You can get many of these great wines from the high teens to $30-40 in comparison to some of the other noble wines of Italy that carry a much heftier price tag.  So what are you waiting for?  Don't just take my word for it.  Get out there and experience Aglianico for yourself.

Cheers to the New Year and please reach out with what you would like to see more of this year.  I love to hear from my readers!

Join us live on Twitter this Saturday at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.  Join my fellow food and wine lovers as they share their selected Aglianico wines with occasional pairings.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Annual Celebrated National and International Wine Days

Happy Holidays and an upcoming Happy New Year to my readers. Thank you again for your support as I travel the world of wine, always highlighting Italian wines of course.  As I start to prepare for the upcoming new year I thought it would be a good idea to focus on some of the annual celebrated national and international wine days throughout the US and the world.  As I plan for my upcoming blogs into 2022 you'll see me feature some wines monthly to highlight some of these events.  If you know of any that aren't featured please reach out.  I'd love to keep this updated annually as new ones may be added.  

January

None found

February

  • February 1st: Furmint Day, #FurmintDay
  • February 18th: National Drink Wine Day
  • Last Saturday in February: Open that Bottle Night, #OpenThatBottleNight

March

  • Washington Wine Month
  • March 3rd: Mulled Wine Day
  • March 13th: International Riesling Day

April

  • April 14th: Tannat Day
  • April 17th: World Malbec Day, #WorldMalbecDay

May

  • Oregon Wine Month, #ORWineMonth
  • First Friday in May: International Sauvignon Blanc Day, #SauvBlancDay
  • May 9th: World Moscato Day, #WorldMoscato Day
  • May 17th: Pinot Grigio Day
  • Thursday before Memorial Day: International Chardonnay Day, #ChardonnayDay
  • May 25th: National Wine Day, #NationalWineDay

June

  • Idaho Wine Month, #IDWineMonth
  • Second Saturday in June: National Rose Day. #NationalRoseDay
  • June 11-16th: National Prosecco Week, #NationalProseccoWeek
  • June 20th: Drink Chenin Blanc Day
  • June 21st: Lambrusco Day, #LambruscoDay
  • Fourth Friday in June: International Rose Day

July

  • First week of July: Sparking wine week
  • July 25th: National Wine and Cheese Day
  • Fourth Thursday of July: Shiraz Day

August

  • August 1st-5th: International Albarino Week
  • August 4th: National White Wine Day
  • August 18th: Pinot Noir Day, #PinotNoirDay
  • August 28th: National Red Wine Day
  • Thursday before Labor Day: International Cabernet Sauvignon Day, #CabernetDay
September
  • California Wine Month, #CAWineMonth
  • Illinois Wine Month, #IllinoisWineMonth
  • Missouri Wine Month, #MOWineMonth
  • North Carolina Wine and Grape Month, #NCWineMonth
  • September 10th: International Port Wine Day
  • Third Friday of September: International Grenache Day, #GrenacheDay

October

  • Virginia Wine Month, #VAWineMonth
  • Pennsylvania Wine Month, #PAWineMonth
  • Texas Wine Month, #TXWine
  • October 6th: National Orange Wine Day
  • Second Saturday of October: International Pinotage Day
  • Last Thursday in October: Carignan Day 

November

  • November 1st: International Xinomavro Day
  • November 7th: International Merlot Day
  • Second Saturday in November: Wine Tourism Day
  • Second Thursday in November: International Tempranillo Day, #TempranilloDay
  • Third Wednesday of November: National Zinfandel Day, #ZinfandelDay
  • Third Thursday of November: Beaujolais Nouveau Day
  • November 24th: Carmenere Day

December

  • December 4th: Cabernet Franc Day, #CabFrancDay
  • December 20th: Sangria Day
  • December 31st: Champagne Day

National and International Wine Days

Friday, December 17, 2021

A Visit to Sanctuary Vineyards in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In October I reached a milestone birthday, my 40th , and was looking for a place to celebrate with my family.  We decided to venture down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which I have always wanted to visit and it wasn’t too far of a flight from the Northeast so it worked out just perfect.  We rented a beautiful home right on the beach in Corolla with perfect weather every day.  I couldn’t have asked for more.   

Sanctuary Vineyards visit in the Outer Banks

Of course, venturing to an area I’ve never been to, I am always curious to scope out the local wine scene.  I wasn’t expecting much to be honest since I really hadn’t heard of North Carolina wines nor had I ever tried a wine from North Carolina.  I was pleasantly surprised that there were multiple wineries in the Outer Banks area. Although most of them were fruit-based wines, my wine loving friend whom travels to the Outer Banks annually recommended I visit Sanctuary Vineyards located in Currituck County in the town of Jarvisburg.  I reached out to the General Manager, John Wright, whom thankfully invited me to visit with my family and taste through a variety of their wines. 

Sanctuary Vineyards Currituck County winery
The Winery ~ Sanctuary Vineyards 

The Wright family that owns Sanctuary Vineyards, has been in and out of the Outer Banks area for 7 generations.  I can only imagine that with such a rich history in the area that the family in some shape or form must be related to the Wright brothers whom invented the first airplane venturing on their first flights in Kitty Hawk, NC.  Although we ran out time, we did drive by the Wright Brothers National Museum that you can visit in Kill Devil Hills.   


John’s ancestors settled in the area after a ship wreck in the town of Duck in the 1800’s.  The winery and vineyards, that occupies 28 acres, was established about twenty years ago by John, his father and uncle.  The Currituck County is known for being an area that grows Muscadine grapes well and it received more recognition for these grapes between the Civil War and Prohibition time period.  Although the Muscadine grapes grow well in the area, Sanctuary Vineyards has chosen to focus on European varietals.  John grew to appreciate wine during his studies at UNC.  Once his education was completed he saw that a few farms in the area had begun to get involved in viticulture.  He felt this was the perfect opportunity to expand their farm and build upon their legacy for future generations. 

Sanctuary Vineyards in the Outer Banks
I was pleasantly surprised upon my visit to see Aglianico on my tasting list.   I had also seen in my research that they had grown Sangiovese, but John had ripped up the Sangiovese vines 10 years ago and I’m sad to say has also now done so with the Aglianico vines.  This happened to be my favorite wine from the tasting so unfortunately you cannot buy it anymore.  John’s experience has shown that thick-skinned Italian grapes that can handle humidity do well in the area.  If he ever tries to plant Italian varietals again in the future his plan is to plant Vermentino. 


Their vineyards are located on both a North and South block with unique soils.  The different blocks all consist of loamy sand with some of the vines located on ancient sand dunes from the Paleolithic era that form the central ridge of Currituck County near the Outer Banks.  Since these soils were scoured by an ancient glacial movement during and after the Ice Ages, they are devoid of much mineral content and organic matter.  This allows the soils to not retain much water and as well all know stressing the vines allows for better wines.   

Sanctuary Vineyards winery in the Outer Banks

The Wines 

I sampled seven wines during my tasting and my top choice was the Sanctuary Vineyard Aglianico Rose made 100% from estate grown Aglianico grapes.  According to Sanctuary Vineyards this was the only Aglianico produced in the state of North Carolina.  I believe this may have been the first Aglianico rose I had ever tried.  I loved the juicy strawberry flavors on this wine and it was refreshingly smooth and perfect drinking on that mid 70 degree day.   


My second favorite wine was the 2019 Sanctuary Vineyard Shipwreck red wine produced from North Carolina grown Syrah blended with Tempranillo and some Petit Verdot.  A dark profile of blackberries with some smokiness along with hints of vanilla.  Medium-bodied with silky tannin.  SRP $25.   


They even had a variety of other wines I tried including Viognier, Albarino, Pinot Gris, Tannat and even an orange wine.  


Have any of my readers visited this winery or even tried other wines from North Carolina?  If you visit the Outer Banks Sanctuary Vineyards is worth a visit.   

Wine tasting in the Outer Banks at Sanctuary Vineyards

*My visit was comp'd, but opinions are always my own.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Ending the Year with Barolo and a Revisit to Fratelli Revello #ItalianFWT

As we start to close in on 2021 with the holiday quickly approaching there is no better time to reward yourself and indulge.  Sometimes I need a little push to open bottles I have brought back from Italy from years of travel there because each individual bottle holds special memories for me.  This month our Italian Food, Wine and travel group (#ItalianFWT) is featuring the final series of Italy’s great B’s, Brunello, Barbaresco and now Barolo. 

What is Barolo & Nebbiolo? 

When it comes to Italian wines, Barolo is one of the greats.  Many have at least heard of Barolo, if not having had the luxury of trying some in your lifetime.  Barolo is grown in the Piedmont wine region in northeastern Italy.  It’s situated in the Langhe appellation just southwest of the town of Alba.  The Barolo wines produced there hail from 11 communes and follow strict regulations as many of the other DOCG wines throughout Italy.  It must be made from 100% Nebbiolo grape with a minimum aging required of 3 years with at least 2 years aged in wood.  These wines are not for the lighter palate.  They are deep and complex and show high tannins along with high alcohol.  The wines display perfumed aromas and a profile consisting of earthiness, roses, tar, cedar, dried cherries and tar.   


The Nebbiolo grape doesn’t hold much color so these wines aren’t as dark and deep as one would expect from the wines exude on the palate.  They are big and bold, but not jammy.  These are late harvested grapes in the vineyards. 

Vineyards in Barolo Piedmont with Fratelli Revello

If I’m going to drink Barolo I tend to bring them out once the cold, winter weather months appear.  They lend well to rich cuisines as the Piedmontese cuisine can be including risotto, truffles and game meats.  I only pulled a small sample from the bottle with my Coravin as I’m planning to open the bottle with my parents over the holiday since I visited the winery I’m sharing today, Fratelli Revello, with them back in 2009.   


The Winery ~ Fratelli Revello 

I’ve featured my visit on Fratelli Revello some years back, but had been sitting on the 2005 Fratelli Revello Barolo I brought back since then.  The Revello family had been making wine since 1954 selling off the grapes, but it wasn’t until 1967 when they started to bottle the wine themselves under Giovanni Revello & Figli.  It was the year that one of the sons, Lorenzo was born and happened to be a fantastic vintage so they took a leap of faith.  In 1990 both brothers Carlo and Lorenzo took over the business and were influenced in upcoming years by their family friend, Elio Altare, who helped them to improve upon the quality of their wines.  It wasn’t until 2016 when Lorenzo and Carlo divided and Carlo started his own line of wines.   

Fratelli Revello in La Morra
Carlo and his wife Paola

The Wine 

The 2005 Fratelli Revello Barolo DOCG wine is grown in the Annuziata vineyards where I had my personal tasting with both Carlo and Lorenzo.  This wine is aged 20% in new French barriques with 80% aged in 2 year old barrels.  It’s released 4 years after harvest.  The color was garnet to brick color with orange tinges toward the rim, which you’ll see as a wine ages.  A perfumed nose of dried cherries, violets with some earthiness.  Bright acid still lingering on this wine right up front upon taste.  Dried cherries and baking spice show on the palate with the tannins softening for an elegant finish.  A little more femininity on this wine, which can sometimes be typical in the wines that hail from La Morra compared to some of the other communes.   ABV 14.5%

2005 Fratelli Revello Barolo
Join us live on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT as we chat all about Barolo.  Join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers as they share their Barolo features this month.  Enjoy!