Thursday, March 29, 2018

Aglianico del Vulture from Cantina Il Passo in the Basilicata

Sticking with the theme of aglianico this month I’m sticking with the Basilicata wine region and sharing an aglianico from Cantina Il Passo.  I have been in connection with one of the family members, Maria, to get a background history on the winery. 

Maria's children are the 5th generation owners of the estate.  Their great great grandfather, Francesco Grimolizzi, in 800 purchased acres of the farm in the town of Rapolla within the province of Potenza.  
Cantina Il Passo in Basilicata
The property was divided amongst the children and now the family owns 50 hectares cultivated of cereal (durum wheat, orzo and oats), 3 hectares of olive groves and in 2012 they purchased a vineyard containing 30 year old vines of Aglianico del Vulture.  Since then they have all purchased another vineyard in Barile totaling 5 hectares of vines.  With this purchase they decided to produce quality wine with the collaboration of wine consultant, Fabio Mecca.  Enologist, Fabio Mecca, born in Barile, consults for wineries in central and southern Italy.  According to WineNews, in 2011 he was awarded one of the 4 Best Emerging Oenologists.
Fabio Mecca Italian enologist
Fabio Mecca
The winery is named Il Passo because it’s the name of the first terrain that one encounters on the property as you approach the winery, which is an olive grove that extends towards the hill.  The wine is named after the land in which the winery resides, Contrada Alberi in Piano.  Their vineyards are planted with exclusively aglianico that is set at the foot of Mt Vulture in the Basilicata region.  Their wine cellar also exists in carved out tufa caves underground.  
Cantina Il Passo Basilicata wine region
In 2013 Cantina Il Passo Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture won the platinum medal by Decantur being named “Best Southern Italian Red” with a rating of 95 points.   

2013 Cantina Il Passo Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture
2013 Cantina Il Passo Aglianico del Vulture Basilicata
The tree on the bottle represents the Grimolizzi roots of the family.  This wine is aged 3 months in steel and then 18 months in new French tonneaux before it is bottled.  For this price point you’re getting much more than you pay for.  A full bodied wine that is rich in dark, brooding berries and well balanced between acidity, flavor and tannins with the tannins showing on the silkier side.  A lasting finish to enjoy once the last sip is gone! SRP $23 ABV 14%

Pairings:  I personally paired this with a classic homemade lasagna and meatballs, but there are many choices you could go with.  Cantina il Passo recommends leg of lamb on a bed of peppers and dried tomatoes.
homemade lasagna
Have you been to this region yet or are you an aglianico lover yet?  What are you waiting for!?

Most pictures copyright of Cantina Il Passo and wine was shared as a sample, but opinions are my own.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Sacred Vines of the Basilicata with D'Angelo Aglianico

The Basilicata in my opinion is one of the lesser known and traveled to destinations for many and this week our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is going to expose one of it’s greatest achievements in winemaking for the region, the grape aglianico. 

The region of Basilicata is located in southern Italy surrounded by the regions of Puglia to the east, Campania to the north and Calabria to the south.  It touches both the Gulf of Taranto as part of the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.  It’s one of the mountainous, if not the most mountainous region in southern Italy with Monte Vulture being a geological highlight of the area’s terrain.  This volcanic area is actually where many of the great aglianico wines originate from known as Aglianico del Vulture.

Aglianico is a grape I discovered some years back and although I don’t have a chance to sample it too often is one that has grown to become one of my favorites.  It was brought to the region of the Basilicata back around the 6th and 7th century by the Greeks.  The name is believed to derive from the word Hellenic or Ellenico.  You’ll also find this grape produced in the region of Campania.  Many call this grape and the wines it produces the “Barolo of the South”, but I say appreciate it for what it is without comparison to others and enjoy!  These wines tend to have high acidity with firm to gripping tannins with plenty of depth, complexity, dark fruits and aging potential.  

The D’Angelo winery is located on about 86 self owned acres where they produce about 300,000 bottles annually.  The D’Angelo SacraVite wine is labeled as a Basilicata IGT making it more affordable around the $14-15 price point, but without skimping on quality.   Sacra Vite stands for sacred vine and is what the D'Angelo winery prides itself on, which is working with the aglianico grape for over a century.  
2013 D'Angelo Sacravite Aglianico Basilicata
The 2013 D'Angelo SacreVite aglianico is aged for a few months in Slavonian oak barrels and is produced in a softer, more approachable way to try aglianico.  It’s made of 100% of the aglianico grape.  On the nose I picked up plenty of dark berries.  Full bodied that is rustic with plums and juicy dark berries combined with some fresh acidity and a lingering finish.  Since this is a young aglianico, and with all aglianico wines, you'll want to decant them.  

Join the Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group as we dive deep into wines made from the Aglianico grape. This Saturday March 3, our posts will all be live and we’ll be chatting about our discoveries. Join us on Twitter Saturday March 3 at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.
Take a look at all the great ideas our group will be posting: