Paolo from Madonna delle Grazie, at VinItaly.

Aglianico discovered at VinItaly!

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VinItaly is a gigantic wine trade fair held every April in Verona. To call it gigantic is an understatement – you could never imagine that there were so many wine producers in Italy (there is some wine from other countries, but the fair is at least 90%+ Italian).

For a couple of New Yorkers who are late to their next meeting,  traveling across the sprawling fairgrounds is an exercise in frustration as the place fills up and walking becomes like trying to rush through Times Square at 5pm on a nice day; but, as in Times Square, there’s some entertaining stuff to glimpse along the  way.

 

 

By afternoon a surprising number of visitors are deep in their cups, some forming vaguely menacing scrums singing hooliganish chants, and further gumming up the aisles. Trial and error have proved that the only way to deal with VinItaly is by extensive planning in advance – you really need to have an appointment at any stand where it’s important to taste.

 

Sometimes research and planning ahead doesn’t work out, as, for instance, when you arrive at a stand to discover it decorated with a twelve-foot-high image of the winery owner striding resplendent through the vines in bespoke tweed, curls flowing in the breeze, ascot just slightly relaxed… Call us snobs, but we’re really keen on winemakers who actually grow the fruit and make the wine, and who don’t really care about forming a cult based on their fine tailoring and general good looks. We tasted the wine, by the way, and it was also pretty glossy.

We had time for a little wandering in the Basilicata pavillion one morning between appointments, and that’s how, after trying a lot of really spoofy Aglianico del Vulture, we met Paolo Latorraca at Madonna delle Grazie.

We like Aglianico, and Monte Vulture, an extinct volcano about 2 hours east of Naples, is (along with Taurasi) widely considered to be the best place to grow the grape, which thrives on rich volcanic soil. Monte Vulture is in Basilicata, the Italian province that forms the instep of the ‘boot’; by Italian terms it’s isolated in the deep south, and is historically one of the poorest regions of Italy. Wine making in the Vulture has gotten a big boost in recent years, but most of the wines are very modern in style, showing heavy influence from new, small oak barrels, and dense, ripe fruit, all of which results in big and somewhat anonymous wines. By contrast, the Madonna delle Grazie wines are vibrant, mineral-driven, and very distinctive. That was our first impression, confirmed by a long second visit at their stand the next day, when we were able to taste and talk at leisure with Paolo. At Madonna delle Grazie they are farming organically and are working very well in the cellar, making fine, low-sulphur wines – more details are below.

No Longer Available

Madonna delle Grazie 2013 IGT Basilicata Sagaris Rosato

If Southern France’s pale, salmon-toned wines have got you in a rut, try some of Southern Italy’s bold, light-crimson rosatos. Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria all make delightful, pink wines, but they are far less appreciated stateside compared to the French equivalent. Often customers mistake the darker color for more fruit flavors or – gasp – sweetness, but the reality is that in southern Italy the skin macerations are a bit longer, and the robust grape varieties give more pigment to the wines. I suspect that the local population is more than happy to drink them at home, as the refreshing and bold flavors work perfectly with the sunny summers of the Italian south. Madonna delle Grazie’s rosato is full of cranberry fruit and a slightly smoky character. John Rankin

 

 

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $13.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Madonna delle Grazie 2009 Aglianico del Vulture Messer Oto

Making Aglianico in a fresh, food-friendly style is not easy; in so many wines ripeness takes over, resulting in a charmless,“hot” wine that tastes of alcohol and roasted fruit. Messer Oto* avoids these pitfalls and showcases Aglianico's ability to carry lifted flavors of brambly fruit and smokey minerals. This is very dry but with some rich black fruit, ripe tannins, and plenty of peppery nuance and complexity; bright acid provides balance and makes this a very versatile food wine to accompany anything from grilled salmon or chicken to burgers or richer stews. John Rankin and Jamie Wolff

*There is a fine public fountain in the Vulture town of Venosa which dates to the 1300s and which is named for a “Messer Oto”, who must have been a local boss of the day.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $16.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Madonna delle Grazie 2009 Aglianico del Vulture Liscone

Liscone is an old Contrada, or farm; Paulo says that the fruit for the Liscone bottling comes from younger vines — only 30 years old... After 15-20 days in open-top fermenters, the wine goes in old tonneau. It's intense — smokey, very mineral. Savory, with ripe tannin, this isn't a fruit-driven wine, but a really sophisticated expression of the Vulture. Fine stuff! JR & JW

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Madonna delle Grazie 2006 Aglianico del Vulture Bauccio

Bauccio is a special selection of 50+ year old vines in the Liscone vineyard. After fermentation in open-topped wood, the wine is matured in large tonneau; the wood seems to integrate seamlessly, and the wine is very elegant, with refined weight and finesse. Rich and savory, with a lovely degree of maturity, Bauccio promises even more with a bit more time — it's very deep and maybe even a bit tight, but really delicious. One of the best Aglianico del Vulture we've tasted. JR & JW

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

Madonna delle Grazie 2004 Aglianico del Vulture Drogone d'Altavilla

Drogone comes from a small parcel of vines planted in 1964. The wine is aged for two years in older, large tonneau of French oak, and then for years in bottle — the 2004 is the current release. A wine of great depth and considerable density, it shares the elegance and finesse of all Madonna delle Grazie wines. It's very cool to taste the highest quality Aglianico that has some age; we're happy that it's still available at such a fair price. JR & JW

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99