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Aglianico vs Nebbiolo

I was recently asked to join the panel for the Italian Wine & Food Festival’s Aglianico VS Nebbiolo masterclass in Sydney, and thought our readers might like a quick rundown of the discussion. So firstly why are we comparing these two grape varieties?

Firstly the similarities. They both flower early and ripen late, and can be overly vigorous in the vineyard giving them the dubious title of ‘tricky’ varieties to get right. They both show the terroir where they are grown. Most importantly they both pack some serious acidity and tannin which leads Aglianico to be known as the “Barolo of the South”. However that’s about where the similarities stop. These are such different varieties, and each wine showed a different facet of its variety relative to place.

Here are the highlights:

2012 Grifalco ‘Gricos’ – Aglianico del Vulture DOC

Owned by the Piccin family who were traditionally from Tuscany, this is their base Aglianico made from younger vines. Estate grown form four vineyards this wine holds the rustic charm of Aglianico with floral and redcurrent note on the nose, whilst still showing granite dust and darkness of fruit synonymous with its volcanic origin.

2009 Antonio Caggiano ‘Vigna Macchia dei Goti’ – Taurasi DOCG

One myth that was burst wide open is that all Aglianico comes from Volcanic vineyards. The wines of Taurasi come from 350mtrs above sealevel and sit on a clay and limestone mix. Being further inland than the Vulture wines it’s a bit cooler too with harvest being end of Oct beginning of Nov. This wine sees French barrique for 12 to 18 months resulting in a full bodied, richly fruits of the forest nose. My notes, before I knew the soil type stated clay and wet stone, and this was in direct contrast to the Volcanic Vulture wines. Bold but svelte, this would be a great cellar addition for 10 years.

This was tricky, as all of the Nebbiolo wines looked traffic just from sticking your nose in. This was the contrast with the Anglianico wines, the Nebbs were gorgeous, seductive from the start.


2010 Proprieta Sperino – Lessona DOC

This was a standout, even amongst the Barolo’s and Barbaresco. Hailing from Northern Piedmont a couple of hours north of Turin close to Gattinara this comes from four vineyards. 2010 was a classic cooler vintage, and this has needed time to reach peak drinking, much like all good Nebbiolo. Balancing acid freshness, sweet tannins and rich violet and blackberry fruit the wine is super long and focused. Highly recommended for the cellar, looking forward to the 2012 release.


2012 Vietti ‘Castiglione’ – Barolo DOCG

With the other Barolo’s looking a little too run of the mill, or overly oaked for my personal taste it was down to the Vietti to show the true greatness of Barolo. From four Barolo crus the fruit is fermented in Stainless before 26 months in cask, size unknown but it’s a mix. Lovely red cherry, redcurrent, and tangy pomegranate with some pretty florals abound, with more serious spice and tannin coming through on the palate. Super fresh but a little closed. I preferred the 2011 and 2010, but this is still a baby give it time and it will reward with some serious pretty florals.

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