Macarico Aglianico: Magnifico! 03/26/11
I’ve said before that Italy produces my favorite wines, and I’ve also said that my favorite grape is Nebbiolo (which, coincidentally, is considered the most noble Italian varietal). But don’t jump to any conclusions, because the real reason Italy is my #1 isn’t the character of one varietal alone: it’s that the country is home to a whole bunch of grapes (pun absolutely intended) that are both distinctive and delicious.
Enter Aglianico. This grape, native to several parts of Italy, is used to make big red wines with high levels of both acid and tannins. Much like Nebbiolo, then, it’s generally a good idea to age your Aglianico for a while before drinking it. When grown in the Basilicata region (as my example was), Aglianico is especially notable for its terroir, which reflects the soil near the (allegedly) extinct volcano Mount Vulture: the very same volcano from which regional wines derive their name, “Aglianico del Vulture.”
The wine I’ll be discussing today is the Macarico Aglianico del Vulture 2004, notable as much for its rhyme as its quality. This was $26 at the state store, so a bit more than I usually spend, but sometimes you just have to be irresponsible. Like that time I bought a $26 bottle of Macarico Aglianico del Vulture, which you may remember from this very review that I’m writing.
So! In the glass the wine was almost completely opaque, with a nice garnet hue around the rim. The nose, though, is where things started to heat up. Immediately I felt a blast of graphite, followed by tobacco, blackcurrant and a pungence reminding me of dog fur. In case the significance of that hasn’t hit you, this wine presented animal, vegetable and mineral notes all at freakin’ once. Chocolate joined the mix after some breathing.
On the palate the wine was as full as expected, but the tannins hadn’t really faded yet, despite the Aglianico’s ripe old age of seven. Currant, pepper and dark chocolate all intermingled, with black cherry eventually being allowed to play too. This may have benefited from some more aging, but it was already riddled with complexity – just like I like ‘em.
I award the Macarico Aglianico del Vulture thumbs up. If you’re in need of a little adventure, this is a varietal I can vouch for.