One of our favorite Italian varietals, Aglianico, was in the news today. Wine critic for the New York Times, Eric Asimov, compared them to Barolo and Barbaresco, but said that they could be difficult to find.
Read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/dining/wine-school-aglianico.html?_r=1
Here at the school, we are fortunate to not only have one but two Aglianicos of tremendously different styles!
The first is Terra di Vulcanos from Basilicata. Basilicata is basically the "ankle" of Italy's boot, and currently isn't very well known for fine wine production. The only area that actually does produce wine for export is along the slopes of the volcano, Mount Vulture. Aglianico thrives in the volcanic soil here. This wine is medium bodied and somewhat fruity, with flavors of raspberry, smoke and grape bubble gum.
My absolute favorite is the Fontanavecchia Aglianico from Taburno in Campania. Campania is located in the lower "shin" of italy's boot, near where you might kick a soccer ball if you were using Italy instead of your foot. This wine compares much closer to Barolo to me than the Vulture, with flavors of sour cherry, tobacco, and earth with a bracing shot of tannin to add structure. If you have ever wished that you could drink Barolo every night, this will get you pretty close without having to take out a second mortgage on your house!
Aglianico is probably my favorite obscure grape to recommend to Italian wine fans and I really can't think of a better pairing for a dry-aged ribeye steak! It was also a favorite of the ancient Romans. If you happened to find yourself in an ancient Roman restaurant and ordered from the reserve list, you would likely have been served an Aglianico! Do as the Romans did, drink Aglianico!