Aglianico + Montepulciano: Estate Vines
Howdy, Howdy, and Hola
Well, I’m 63 today, and one thing is for sure; I’ve never been this old on my birthday before. I suppose on one level I can celebrate having turned 21 three times. Geezo, I need to get to my wine rack while I still have the strength to pull the cork.
Anyway, last week Brian chased me down in the tasting room VERY excited about the new 2014 Epiphany. It just finished its time in oak and was back in tanks waiting to be bottled. He gave me a direct directive to taste it and write some notes, which I have dutifully done.
However, before I share these with you next week, let’s check out some info about the Montepulciano and Aglianico grapes which are blended together to create our very limited, and very much sought after, Epiphany. This wine is unique in that the two are “field blended”. This means that they fermented and aged together as one wine. Unlike our other blends, these two are married at birth.
Aglianico has a rich and storied past. The vine originated in Greece, and was brought to Italy by Greek settlers. It was widely planted throughout central Italy by the 7th century. Pliny the Elder, one of the greatest Roman winemakers (and a pretty darn good philosopher), constantly extolled its virtues. It is predominately found in the Compania and Basilicata regions of south central Italy.
Aglianico is one of Italy’s best “black” skinned grapes, and produces a deep garnet wine with high levels of tannin and acid. The big tannins create an age worthy wine that can be a bit edgy when young. A few years of aging will allow earthy flavors of plum and chocolate to emerge.
Montepulciano is planted throughout Italy, and is most common in the southeastern regions. It may have originated in Abruzzo (or Abbruzzi) on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. It’s important not to confuse the grape Montepulciano with the village Montepulciano in western Tuscany, which gives its name to the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which is primarily Sangiovese.
The grape typically has high yields, which was certainly the case with the 2014. Montepulciano wines are rich and elegant, with flavor and aroma profiles of dark fruit and peppery spiciness. Its moderate acidity and tannin make it a great partner for our Aglianico. It’s also used to produce a lovely, dark rose wine called “Cerasoulo”, which literally translates as “cherry red”.
So, until next week when we talk about the ’14 Epiphany (and a word about our exciting new “Estate Club”), we’ll see you on the flip-side.