by Gareth Groves
On Tuesday, I was speed tasting some of the reds at our W1 tasting to check for TCA or other problems before we opened the doors. I wasn’t taking my time to think about balance, fruit or quality. I wasn’t writing notes and mentally composing potential food matches. It was open, pour, sniff, slurp, spit and move on.
Until I reached this wine and I stopped in my tracks.
I used to drink a lot of it a few years back. For a while, it was my house red, an ever-reliable stand by for a midweek bowl of pasta or a trip to a pal’s for dinner. Then for some reason, I stopped drinking it. No doubt, something else caught my wandering eye, something newer and (temporarily) more exciting. It’s time to start drinking it again.
The name isn’t the easiest to decode if you aren’t a keen student of Italian wines.
‘Aglianico’ is the grape. It is one of Italy’s most interesting indigenous varieties: tannic, perfumed and full of freshness. Some call it the ‘Nebbiolo of the South’.
‘Vulture’ refers to Mount Vulture, the conical larva pit that overlooks the vineyards of the Basilicata region.
Mount Vulture has provided the dark soils that give this wine its sub-brand: ‘Terra di Vulcano’ or Volcanic Earth.
‘Bisceglia’ is the name of the winery and the surname of Mario Bisceglia, the man who has invested his millions in trying to raise the profile of his home region. Mario is from Lavello, a poor but beautiful hilltown that was once home to Horace – he of ‘nunc est bibendum’ fame and the man indirectly responsible for the name of this website.
Get past the label, and the screwcap, the liquid is a deep, dark ruby. The nose is full of dried rose petals, plum sauce and sweet spices. The palate is juicy and fresh with a bite of chunky tannins and mouth-watering acidity. The cherry fruit has a bitter-sweet edge.
On its own it is simple but delicious, with olive oil, garlic and some hard pecorino alongside it absolutely sings. Throw in a spicy, fennel-scented sausage or two and you will have a feast.