Aglianico is a red wine grape native to Greece, although some smaller Italian producers in Campania and Basilicata (the southernmost wine regions on mainland Italy) use this grape to produce powerful reds. In fact, the grape is pretty much anonomous with the Italian wine industry these days. Italians think of the grape, much like we do Syrah here in America. A big, structured and tannic beast that isn’t fit for everyday consumption. Aglianico has had a home in this southern region of Italy really since Roman times and that foothold continues to this day, even if the grape hasn’t caught on anywhere else.
Aglianico produces structured, deep reds. They’re the kind of backbone styled wines that have made Napa Valley famous, although Aglianico tends to be more tannic than Napa’s namesake Cabernet’s tend to be.
One part of Aglianico that means it’s likely to be a winner over the longer term here in California, but also throughout newer growing regions across the world. It likes warmer climates. Fine in southern Italy of course. But in much of the new world, these were grapes that simply didn’t get to ripeness enough to be interesting. People were obsessing over the use of cool climate vineyard sites and the wine industry moved closer and closer to the ocean and river when possible.
Luckily, that’s changing for new grapes today. As more and more cool climate sites have been built out, vintners have had to consider warmer sites and the grapes which could actually grow well in those areas.