Unknown to many travelers, Basilicata quietly sits between Calabria and Puglia in Southern Italy. Limited transportation, mountainous terrain, and a small coastline have isolated the region. Seemingly uninviting, Basilicata actually boasts incredible sites and unique culture. Ancient villages, like the UNESCO city of Matera, along with Basilicata’s volcanic Italian wines, namely Aglianico del Vulture, have recently shown the spotlight on the underrated region.
Today, four wine regions make interesting and terroir-driven red and white wines worth trying. However, many small producers can rarely be found outside of Italy. Fortunately, you can taste premium wines from Basilicata on a trip to Southern Italy. Take advantage of all that the area has with a Southern Italy Yacht Charter.
Red Wines of Basilicata
Aglianico Del Vulture
Brought by early Greek settlers in the 7th Century B.C., Aglianico is one of the oldest and most important red wines in Southern Italy. Like in Campania, it thrives in ancient volcanic soils. Here in Basilicata, Aglianico grows along the southern and eastern slopes of the now extinct volcano, Mount Vulture. Typically, these vineyards are situated from 600-1800 feet but can go as high as 2,400 feet above sea level.
Cool-weather and altitude make for an extended grape growing seasoning, allowing Aglianico to ripen for longer. As a result, more flavors and intensity develops. Likened to northern Italy’s Nebbiolo, also a late-ripening grape, Aglianico retains acidity while also creating bold tannins.
Due to its power, Aglianico is very age-worthy and are only released after some aging. Subsequently, they require a minimum of 12 months for DOC wine, 24 months for DOCG, and 36 months if labeled Vecchio, meaning old. Throughout Basilicata’s 4 DOCs (wine denominations) and 1 DOCG (best denomination), the wines must be made from 100% Aglianico grapes.
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG is the premier zone for top expressions of Aglianico. Known as the Vulture massif, it’s located at the northern tip of Basilicata. The wines are aromatic, with exotic spices and wood. While the tannins are firm and noticeable, Aglianico’s acidity plays a great balancing act.
Nearly all Aglianicos improve with age, as they soften and evolve elegantly. Notes of plum integrate with baking spices to create a complex body. Of course, Aglianico wines also pair perfectly with the area’s lamb dishes and cheese.
Matera Red Wines
A wider variety of grapes grow in the eastern province of Matera. The Rosso wines must comprise at least 60% Sangiovese and 30% Primitivo. On the other hand, Matera’s Moro reds must contain a minimum of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Primitivo and 10% Merlot.
Additionally, winemakers produce Primitivo as a single varietal wine, of at least 90% Primitivo grapes. This deep, robust grape can also be found in neighboring Puglia and is also called Zinfandel in California. Wines here are generally high in alcohol and full-bodied. Look for great Primitivo and other wines from Cantina Taverna.
Terra dell’alta Val d’Agri Red Wines
Two of the four wine regions of Basilicata primarily make blends, sometimes with international grape varieties. In the Terra dell’Alta, located in southwestern Basilicata, winemakers grow Merlot and Cabernet. Here they typically blend the grapes to make their Rosso (red) and Rosato (rose) wines. You can find a wide range of Val d’Agri organic wines from Pisani.
Grottino di Roccanova Red Wines
In the center of Basilicata, red blends are also popular. In particular, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grow around Sant’Arcangelo and Castronuovo,. These grapes comprise the Rosso blends and Rosato wines.
White Wines of Basilicata
The most premium white wine of Basilicata would have to be Moscato Bianco (White Muscat), a grape more prevalent in northern Italy. In Basilicata, winemakers grow Moscato in the northern Mount Vulture region as well as around Matera in the east.
With high acidity, Moscato also makes great sparkling wines. Moscato wines are typically very golden in color with pronounced aromas of white flowers. Ripe peach flavors come across the palate, followed by a salty finish. Try delicious Moscato and more from Musto Carmelitano and Masseria Cardillo.
Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata
Malvasia from Basilicata is yet another biotype of the diverse 18 Malvasia’s grown throughout Italy. In Basilicata it is grown in the Matera wine region where it is made as a single varietal and in white blends. A Matera Bianco must be at least 85% Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata.
Wines produced from Malvasia are extremely aromatic with notes of tropical fruit and honey. They can range from medium to full-bodied and are really great with many dishes. After dinner, you can try Malvasia in Bianco Passito, a sweet wine. Check out Malvasia and many more wines from Cantina di Venosa.
Greco, found throughout southern Italy also thrives in the Matera area. A citrusy, and lighter-bodied wine is Matera’s Greco Bianco, comprising at least 85% Greco. Great examples come from winemakers like Cantine Cifarelli.
Taste Basilicata’s hard to find volcanic Italian wines and so much more on a trip to Italy. Book your Southern Italy Yacht Charter today.