Aglianico. Huh? Yeah it’s a grape from Southern Italy used in making serious red wines. Serious, like Napa Cabenet serious? Yep. If you don’t believe me, read on. Per Wikipedia, “Aglianico is a black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy. It is considered with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo to be one of the three greatest Italian varieties.”
We visited Puglia a few years back and got schooled in Aglianico by Nicola, the winery manager at Tenuta Giorlamo. Nicola graciously gave us a barrel taste of the 2017 Codalunga Aglianico and we were blown away. It’s almost impossible to find top-notch Puglian Aglianico here and we’d given up hope until…
Stop the presses! Waterfall Cellars (Napa) got their hands on some Aglianico grape vines and started producing wine. I was skeptical as Aglianico is a fussy grape and very scarce in the US. I needed to try this odd duck wine and ordered a half case of the Waterfall 2014 Aglianico El Dorado ($17/bottle) and WOW!
Leather and vanilla on the nose with blackberry/black cherry notes on the palate followed by a long finish on soft, inviting tannins. I should have bought 2 cases. If this were a Napa Cabernet, it would be well over $50 a bottle. But because it’s the lesser-known Aglianico it was value priced at $17. Watch out for more news on this grape as more vineyards add this to their offerings…the Cabernet alternative. Bravo, Waterfall Cellars! I give it 4.5 out of 5 points.
Note: According to Prince of Pinot website, “Waterfall Cellars is a collaboration between proprietor Boris Guillome and winemaker Helen Keplinger. This is a small artisan project with a focus on small lots of varietal wines. Good luck finding the label’s website. We tried http://www.waterfallcellars.com forever and got nowhere.