Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata
Just across the eastern border of Campania in the region of Basilicata stands the 1326 metre (4350 feet) Monte Vulture (pronounced VOOl-too-reh), an extinct stratovolcano. It’s unique in being the only volcano in Italy on the east side of the Apennines, and lends its name, and its basalt-derived soils, to the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG, Basilicata’s most important wine appellation.
Aglianico is the only permitted grape variety and is late-ripening at the best of times. But on the upper slopes of Mt.Vulture, the harvest stretches regularly into November, at a time when the rest of Italian vintners, save perhaps for those high up on Mount Etna, or those precariously close to Switzerland far up the Aosta Valley, have moved on to other tasks in the wine-grower’s calendar.
It’s well worth the effort to track down the best; Aglianico del Vulture at its finest is a grand expression of the sort of perfumed and inviting, savoury and minerally, graceful yet firm style of wine that is becoming ever more rare – the kind you might have enjoyed a century or three ago.
Campania is also a region of singular beauty in the southern Italian Peninsula. Abundant sunshine, dramatic scenery, a rich tradition of gastronomy and the south’s deepest repertoire of fine wines conspire to make the region a joyful place. The Romans referred to it as Campania Felix, or “happy country”. Campania is also a stronghold for native grape varieties, many planted for at least 2000 years.