Aglianico of the Old World
Aglianico, pronounced “alli-yawn-nico” pronounced like “olly” in “olly, olly oxen free” is known as a Italian full bodied red wine. However this wine was not always in the boot and has deep roots in ancient history. As one of the oldest wine varietals, Agliancio is thought to be one of the first great wines of all time.
From the Phoenicians
History claims that Aglianico was once possibly called “Ellenico,” which is Italian for “Greek”. It is said to have been brought to Southern Italy by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago. The Phoenicians were one of civilizations first major traders and sailed all around the Mediterranean Sea, bringing their wine making techniques wherever they went. Wars, invasions, and disease moved the Phoenicians from Turkey, to Greece, and later to Oenotria, meaning “land of wine” in Southern Italy.
On to Oenotria
As the Phoenicians settled in their new land, Aglianico was planted almost exclusively south of Rome in the southern regions of Italy, Campania and Basilicata. The volcanic soil and climate of the south were favorable to the vines. As a wine, Aglianico, was very popular among the Romans for it’s full body and high acidity. The deep red had enough structure to age for several years and paired well with the rich gamy foods of ancient times. With the higher acidity Romans could store Aglianico for long periods in the cellars of their homes. The name was changed to the modern “Aglianico” sometime in the 15th century and the wine grape is still thriving in southern Italy today.
Across the Atlantic to the New World
Across continents there are about 25,000 acres of Aglianico in the world today. Heringer Estates grows 4 acres in Clarksburg, Ca. The first vines were planted in 2011 to add diversity to the vineyard. Clarksburg has a very similar climate as Greece and Italy and our winemaker, Mike Heringer, was drawn to the ancient appeal of Aglianico. He felt that the sandy loam and long growing season of the Clarksburg region would fair well with this great historic wine. He was also drawn to the high acidity of the wine and wanted a varietal that could age for several years for our California wine collectors.
Aglianico at Heringer Estates
Since 2011 Heringer Estates has produced several vintages of Aglianico and will be bottling the much anticipated 2016 vintage late this spring. When you try this deep red you will experience beautiful aromas of cherry, blackberry, leather, spiced plum, and white pepper. It can pair well with braised meats and rich foods such as bbq, stews, and strong fatty cheeses. “The wine has a bright fruit forwardness like a Pinot Noir but with a stronger structure to age longer,” says Winemaker Mike Heringer, “and in Clarksburg the wine comes out even brighter and with more minerality that makes it truly great today.” It seems that Aglianico is not only a great wine throughout history, but also has a promising future in Clarksburg.
Although only a small portion of this beautiful grape of the past is grown in Clarksburg, CA, the expansion of this varietal is bringing history to life. People of today can enjoy the same wine that the people of our past civilizations enjoyed. Our ancient ancestors poured “Ellenico” into there glass to share with friends and family. They paired this wine with their favorite foods and spoke about business, love, and politics. Today, thousands of years later, connecting time and space, we can enjoy Aglianico in the very same way; toasting to each other as if time has not passed at all.
Written by Creative Director, Cara Gregor