Monday, February 20, 2012


It’s always a nice surprise when we get a varietal or blend that we aren’t familiar with in a wine club shipment. It doesn’t happen often – not because we’ve had a ton of varietals, but there’s a reason the varietals aren’t on every wine shelf- difficult varietal, specific climate needs, etc.

Well, in the past month we’ve received not one, but TWO of the same lesser known varietal, Aglianico [ah-LYAH-nee-koh] from two different wine clubs. (Aglianico is an Italian variety primarily grown in the southern part of Italy, performing best in hot climates and volcanic soils, although both of these were from California) I don’t recall ever having it, although it’s possible I tasted it but would remember having a bottle with dinner, for example.

The two we received were the 2006 Domenico Winery Aglianico and the 2009 Benessere Winery Aglianico. Clearly we chose to try the 2006 first, and the pairing recipe called for lamb, so a dinner was born. We bought a leg of lamb, seasoned with some thyme and tarragon, put it on the grill and opened up the bottle to taste.

Now, we’ve gotten in the habit of opening up the bottle for dinner about 30-60 minutes before dinner pouring a small glass to determine if the wine should be decanted, or just left in the glass and bottle to air. (in order to really allow an open bottle to aerate, you need to pour a small amount into a glass to get air into the wine in the bottle- not just uncork it)

Back to the wine – the recipe had called for lamb or a “heavily marbled ribeye” so we took that as the wine will be tannic and strong – we anticipated it would need some time and we were right. Right out of the bottle it was astringent and strong. We poured our glasses and decanted it while the lamb cooked, about 45 minutes and it opened up nicely. While still strong, it was no longer astringent – just tannic – and it was really wonderful with the lamb cutting through the fat. It continued to evolve with flavors of dark cherry and currant, with a little bit of spice. By the time we were finished with the lamb, it had softened to the point of no longer requiring food, so we clearly could’ve kept the 2006 for another 2+ years. Naturally we’re quite bummed, because that means the 2009 should be cellared for quite some time before reaching it’s peak.

Trying new wines is fun, so keep an eye out for something you've never heard of!

1 comment:

Claire Uncorked said...

Aglianico is great! I picked one up a while back after tasting it at work. Great alternative for Cab lovers.