Wines from the southernmost part of Italy are hitting their stride but remain largely unfamiliar to American consumers. Time for that to change. All the Italian wines we consume on a regular basis—Chianti, Moscato, Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera—are made north of Naples and north the winemaking regions of Campania, Sicily, Puglia and Basilicata. The great red grape of South Italy is Aglianico [/ah-lee-ah-nee-ko/]. The 2011 FEUDI DI SAN GREGORIO “Rubrato” Aglianico is made in a very contemporary style that is atypical of this ancient wine with origins in the Hellenistic Period. Sharp, dense, tannic and aggressive—amid the notes of plum, raisin, prune, and dark cherry, as well as rose, cracked black pepper, smoky oak, tar and black tea, you can see how this wine is a product of the volcanic ash soils outside of Mount Vesuvius, the same volcano that leveled Pompeii. This Aglianico is an unsettling experience, not a relaxing but deeply engaging, cerebral wine. For those times when you’re interested in stimulating the palate and the mind. –J.M.
Great Wine: Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco