Volcano Dreamin' -- Camerlengo Aglianico

Built on the side of the volcano Mount Vulture, Rapolla is home to some damn fine Aglianico

As I sit down to write this, it is forty degrees outside, and we're promised some sunlight this week, but boy was it biting cold last week. For now, I’d like to forget about the cold. I’d like to think hot. I’d like to dream about a volcano.


Mount Vulture lies deep in the south of Italy, in Basilicata (which forms the arch in the proverbial Italian boot). While the mountain hasn't erupted in some 40,000 years, its tumultuous history has blessed the region with an abundance of fertile volcanic soil. One grape, Aglianico, is universally acknowledged as the purest expression of this ancient, dark earth. A variety known to the ancient Greeks, Aglianico was the grape used to make Falernian, a maderised, highly alcoholic, sweet wine that was so in demand that a later Roman emperor had to set a maximum price merchants could charge for it. Today, producers like Camerlengo focus on a dry red that more fully harnesses the unique terroir of Mount Vulture.


The Camerlengo estate grows their grapes alongside olives and chestnuts in the fields surrounding the town of Rapolla. They are focused entirely on bringing out quality in their vines, sourcing all of their fruit from five hectares of land and keeping bottle production to a staggeringly low 12,000 units per vintage. As for what you’ll actually be drinking, Aglianico produces a full bodied, hearty red with firm structure. Camerlengo’s “Antelio” has aromas of red fruit, dried flowers, firepit, and leather. The tannins are front and center and dusty, perfect for keeping you warm in the night. I have a (possibly) unfortunate tendency to jump directly to pizza when pairing Italian wines, but I will say that the Antelio is perfect for a pie topped with spicy sausage. You might not expect it, but this bottle is also a great cheese wine. Go for a strong and savory option like the oldest Gouda you can find and be amazed.


--Little Jon


'08 Camerlengo Aglianico del Vulture "Antelio" $22.99