Big Reds, Puglia

Aglianico You Need to Know

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.”

Gary and Nicola at Tenuta Girolamo’s tasting room

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.

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