Spotlight on Aglianico

Spotlight on Aglianico


About Aglianico (pronounced alli-yawn-nico)
Aglianico is a black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy, mostly Basilicata and Campania.

What is the origin of Aglianico?
Aglianico is originally from Greece and brought by Greek immigrants to southern Italy. It was the main grape used in the renowned Falernian wine in Roman times, equivalent of the first-growth or best quality wine today. Pliny the Elder, a wine expert and wine maker in his day, commented on the grape in his commentaries.  

Where are the most popular regions for this varietal today?
Aglianico is most closely associated with southern Italy where it is grown in volcanic soil. In Basilicata it is the region’s only DOCG wine with the highest quality Aglianico coming from the area near Mount Vulture in the province of Portenza. It is also found in Campania where it is also known as Taurasi. It is the main grape in Aglianico del Taburno and Falerno del Massico.  It has also been planted in the sunny climates of Australia, Texas, and California.  

What are the characteristics of Aglianico?
Aglianico is deep garnet in color and when young can exhibit strong flavors of leather, pepper, and dark fruit. As it ages it develops a softer earthy quality, with aromas of plum, and chocolate and flavors of dried fruit and leather. Aglianico is full bodied with high acidity and tannins which allow the wine to age well. In Campania it is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvingon and Merlot.

Why did you choose to grow Aglianico?
As Cabernet is to Napa, so Aglianico is to El Dorado.  Everything we know about the Aglianico in Italy suggests that it will produce fine red wines at Starfield.  Check what we know:
  • Prefers the mountains
  • Loves volcanic soil
  • Needs a warm climate
  • Late ripening
  • Produces wines with dark, rich color
  • Excellent acidity
  • Fine tannin structure
Our Aglianico is a prized clone that comes from di Vulture, and was brought to California by Antonio Mastroberadino, scion of the family which produces the most famous Aglianicos in Italy.  We planted it on a south-facing slope on 420a rootstock, well above the fall frost line, so that we could promote ripening before fall rains arrived.  In our first year of production, 2015, we harvested it early, on September 28!  In many years, we expect it to ripen in mid to late October.  

When will it be available?
It’s resting in barrel now, and will be available in the fall of 2018.  

Tips for Consuming Aglianico
Aglianico has the potential for aging for up to 10 years and during that time the tannins soften. New world Aglianico can be more approachable and consumed younger. It is a complement to bold flavors and pairs well with rich meats such as beef brisket, barbeque, carne asada, smoked pork, venison, buffalo, oxtail and hearty chili and stews. For pairing with cheese try pecorino, asiago, provolone, cheddar, or Monterey jack. Vegetable accompaniment includes Portobello and other mushrooms. Black beans, lentils, tempeh, and arugula.    

Starfield Vineyards is an artisanal producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot  from the cooler hillsides of Napa Valley and Bordeaux, France.  Inspired by the “star fields” that make extraordinary wines possible in these world-renowned regions, Starfield celebrates the truly great vineyard sites that allow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to develop the optimal balance of aroma, flavor and texture.  Father and son team, Tom and Rob Sinton, bring to Starfield four generations of winegrowing experience and an intense desire to reach beyond traditional boundaries to pursue the ultimate quality in cool climate winemaking. Buy our wine online and sign up for your allocation by joining our wine club, which assures your access to these limited production Bordeaux blends for home, special occasions or as gifts for wine connoisseurs.