Aglianico del Vulture is a red wine made from the Aglianico grape grown around Vulture, an extinct volcano in Basilicata, Italy. Aglianico del Vulture has the potential to rank with Italy’s greatest red wine denominations, given that the Aglianico grape from which it is made is on a par qualitatively with both Sangiovese of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG fame and Nebbiolo of Barolo and Barbaresco fame.
Production zone: Aglianico del Vulture comes from an area less that an hours’ drive north of Basilicata’s regional capital, Potenza, one of Italy’s coldest cities in winter despite its southerly latitude. The name Vulture (pronounced vull-tour-ay) refers to the volcano (now extinct) upon which the vineyards lie. Vulture’s seven peaks are said to resemble the outstretched wing(s) of that particular bird of prey.
Late ripening: The Aglianico grape is a late ripener, especially at altitude. Here it can be among the last of Italy’s red wines to be picked. The harvest can be later than in Barolo 470 miles (750 km) to the north-west (Oz Clarke: 2015, p.25).
Growing Aglianico: The most traditional way of growing Aglianico here is ‘a capanno‘, meaning the vines are supported by a tripod of canes or poles allowing the bunches to hang lower to the ground whose reflected heat aids late season ripening.
Wines: There exist three wines labelled Aglianico del Vulture. They are Aglianico del Vulture DOC, Aglianico del Vulture DOCG Superiore, and Aglianico del Vulture DOCG Riserva (both DOCGs were upgraded from DOC effective for the 2011 vintage onwards.
The baseline rules (‘disciplinare‘) governing any of the three wines with Aglianico del Vulture state:
- The zone covers the communes of Rionero in Vulture, Barile, Rapolla, Ripacandida, Ginestra, Maschito, Forenza, Acerenza, Melfi, Atella (in part), Venosa, Lavello, Palazzo San Gervasio, Banzi, and Genzano di Lucania
- 100% Aglianico grapes grown at 200 to 720 metres (660 to 2,300 feet) on “predominantly volcanic” soil
- Vines must be dry farmed and at least 5 years of age
- Minimum vine density of 3,350 vines/ha (1,356 vines/acre)
- Yield limit of 8 tons/ha (52hl/ha) + 20% in favourable years
- The wines must be made, aged and bottled in the zone described above
The prized lava-rich areas giving the most typical, complex wines are found in the higher parts of the Vulture, around Barile, Rapolla and Rionero. Lower down, around the pretty village of Venosa, the soil changes from black to greyish, and then to reddish nearby around Maschito, whose iron-rich soils contain little lava, and therefore also produce a quite different style of wine.
Aglianico del Vulture DOC: Rules governing the original Aglianico del Vulture DOC designation were established in May 1971. They form the basis for those subsequently applied to the two wines described below, covering the same geographic area (outlined above) and the same 100% Aglianico formula. However, yields for Aglianico del Vulture DOC are potentially 20% higher at 10 tons/ha compared to Aglianico del Vulture DOCG Superiore and Aglianico del Vulture DOCG Riserva, the minimum alcohol level is lower at 12%, the wine can contain up to 10g/l residual sugar and it may be sold in glass demijohns holding up to 6 litres as well as in normal bottles. In addition, a sparkling (spumante) version is permitted, whose second fermentation must take place in bottle (11% min. alcohol.). The wine can be sold from September following the harvest.
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG: This must age for three years before release (from Nov 1st onwards), at least one year of which must be in oak and one in bottle. The minimum alcohol level is 13%.
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG Riserva: This requires five years’ ageing before release, at least 24 months of which must be in oak. Superiore wines may be sold in glass demijohns holding up to 3 litres as well as in normal bottles.
Certified organic: Basilisco.
Other: Basilium. | Bisceglia. | Cantina di Venosa. | Cantine del Notaio di Giuratrabocchetti. | Carpe Diem–see Consorzio Viticoltori Associati del Vulture. | Casa Vinicola Armando Martino. | Carbone. | (Carpe Diem). | D’Angelo. | Donato D’Angelo. | Elena Fucci. | I Talenti. | Le Querce. | Macarico. | Musto Carmelitano. | San Martino (Vulture).