Can you believe it is already January? I had a fun filled family holiday season. We saw Star Wars The Force Awakens twice as well as countless other Christmas movies, went to the Dallas Museum of Art, ate great food, shopped, spent time with friends and drank great wine. It was a time to relax and be in the moment, and get behind on wine articles. Not necessarily behind on writing but I chose to spend more time in the moment and less time researching for articles. With that in mind we kick off the new year of Italian Food Wine Travel by exploring Basilicata.
Located in the “instep” of the boot, Basilicata wine region is characterized by extremes of temperature and climate with tropical and mountainous terrain. Basilicata contains 4 DOC appellations and 1 DOCG. The wines are crafted predominately in the northern region of the mountains with Aglianico del Vulture being the star. The wine region is not affluent but it is rich in natural beauty. It is boarded by Campania, Puglia and Calabria to the north, east and west, with two coast lines on Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Basilicata’s wine production is very small with only 3% production from the DOCs. Most of the wine production surrounds the extinct volcano Mount Vulture.
Aglianico is the star of the region. It is a tannic, full-body red wine with musky fruit flavors, high levels of acidity and has great aging potential. However, Basilicata claims a strong support cast of grapes with IGT status including: Moscato, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Bombino Nero.
I went to my favorite local Italian wine retailer, Jimmy’s Dallas, and selected an Aglianico del Vulture for this article.
Basilisco 2004 Aglianico del Vulture: “Basilisco” is a Greek word meaning little king; this wine poured garnet with brown rim into the glass; old world aromas of cherries, black berries and plums are met with balsamic fig spread, licorice, a touch of mineral driven dry dirt; this wine has a powerful structure with round acidity and well integrated tannins for a soft, lingering finish; fermentation and maceration in stainless steel tanks 15-30 days, aged 12-15 months in French oak barriques, 1st and 2nd usage, then aged 12 months in bottle before release.
I chose to pair the Aglianico with foods traditional to the Basilicata region. A region historically poor the foods reflect the region’s rustic qualities. Pork, pecorino cheese and Orecchiette (meaning little ears) are common to the Basilicata diet. In order to incorporate these ingredients I made Orecchiette Pasta with Caramelized Eggplant and Spicy Pork Ragu. The recipe was quite easy, delicious, and definitely paired well with the rustic nature of the wine. It was a wonderful pairing.
More about Basilisco Winery from their web site:
The winery Basilisco, since its start in the early 90s, aimed at the highest quality both in the vineyards and in the wine making thus becoming in a short time a pearl in the Southern Italian scenario. In 2011 Feudi di San Gregorio, the leading winery in the South of Italy and present in the Vulture region for over ten years, decided to start a project reclaiming its ancient tuff stone caves in the “Shesh”, the historic Park of cellars of Barile, and revamping this ancestral context. This move was animated by the firm belief in the uniqueness of this extraordinary viticulture area. The acquisition of Basilisco with its beautiful tuff stone cellars and its vineyards in the most vocated location accomplished the plan and gave birth to a space of astonishing beauty in the historical heart of the Aglianico del Vulture production.
Viviana Malafarina is the “face and the soul” of Basilisco: she manages all the aspects of the winery and work with huge passion in the cellar guided by Pierpaolo Sirch who is also responsible for the vineyards.
Please kick off 2016 with these great Basilicata discoveries from my fellow #ItalianFWT friends:
Please join #ItalianFWT at 10amCST on Twitter to share your thoughts on Basilicata, then again on February 6 at 10am CST as we explore the toe of Italy: Calabria! Hope to see you there.
My Song Selection: This wine was rustic, earthy, authentic. It was not full of fluff and overwhelmingly fruity. It’s probably not a wine for all tastes but it was a wine for me!
Get your own bottle of Basilisco 2004 Aglianico del Vulture and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!