Among the wineries in Vulture: a weekend on a volcano

Among the wineries in Vulture: a weekend on a volcano

A winemaking symbol of Basilicata, Aglianico, the late-ripening variety that needs a lot of time and a suitable climate to reach the right level of ripeness, has found its ideal habitat on the soils of a volcano that has been extinct for millennia: Mount Vulture. It is 1326 metres high and looms austere in the northern part of the region on the border with Apulia and Campania.

Instead of the crater there are are two lakes, while all around the vegetation is thick and varied. The naturalistic aspects are an important tourist attraction in the Lucanian area that is advancing in leaps and bounds and that has lots to offer because it is still off the beaten track.

grappoloaglianico_Grifalco-300x225Don’t call it the “Barolo of the south”

In 2019 Matera will be the European Capital of Culture: this will be a great occasion to find out more about the local history and traditions of these places that are still far from mass tourism. The culture also includes food and wine and gives it a precise identity, like the one the local wine finally seems to have found in this volcanic land. It has long been called the “Barolo of the south” for its finesse combined with structure and longevity, but the time has come to call it by its own name: Aglianico del Vulture. A further step forward was taken in 2010, when Aglianico del Vulture Superiore became a DOCG.

The historic wineries in Vulture in ancient caves

The area where production is allowed includes 15 municipalities, all in the province of Potenza.

On the slopes of the volcano, the lavic soils give the grapes mineral aromas and complexity  and the wineries that produce Aglianico del Vulture often stand out for their enthusiasm and strong character. Many wineries in Vulture were founded, or re-founded, at the end of the 1990s and the start of the new millennium. Paternoster, on the other hand, is a historic winery founded in Barile in 1925 by Anselmo Paternoster: some bottles are still jealously guarded by the family and the date is still clearly visible on the gate of the winery. The new winery is in the Valle del Titolo district and is organised over two floors: the first floor is dedicated to receiving guests, while the second floor underground is where the crushing, fermentation, bottling and part of the ageing takes place. The wines for Don Anselmo and Rotondo on the other hand, are transferred to the historic cellar dug out of tuff.

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Shesh

Also in Barile is the organic winery Basilisco, run by Viviana Malafarina under the expert guidance of Pierpaolo Sirch. Feudi di San Gregorio have owned it since 2011, arriving in Barile to set up a project to recover the ancient tuff stone caves in the “Shesh”, which were dug out of the twists and turns of the volcano in the fifteenth century by a group of Albanian refugees who settled in various areas of southern Italy. Barile is still an “arbëresh” settlement today (an Italo-Albanian ethnic group), the caves can be visited and are the ideal place for making and preserving wine and oil. Basilisco, whose name recalls the land of origin (meaning “little king” in Greek), is the name of the first multi-awarded Aglianico, while another Aglianico has been dedicated to the Byzantine emperor Theodosius: the label depicts a fifth-century coin which has become the winery’s  symbol. Sophia is the only white wine the winery makes from 100% Fiano. A curiosity: the historic Cantine di Barile Park was the setting for Pierpaolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”.

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Elena Fucci

Heritage and relaunching Lucanian vinegrowing

Also Elena Fucci’s winery is in Barile. There is only one grape and only one wine: Titolo. Elena Fucci’s grandfather, Generoso, left her 6 hectares of the oldest vineyards in Vulture, they reach 70 years of age and are divided into small terraces. In 2000, Elena decided to enrol at university to study enology and to recover the vineyards to produce a unique, great wine: Aglianico, a choice made to represent the specificity of the variety and the territorial nature of Vulture in the best way. The new cellar was built according to the principles of bio-architecture, using recyclable materials and technology to reduce the environmental impact and energy costs to a minimum; you can visit the cellar and also take part in educational activities in the vineyard.

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Basilisco’s cellar

Founded at the end of the 1990s, the Cantine del Notaio is another story that starts with a bequest from grandfather Gerardo to his grandson with the same name: Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti. The cellar is dug out of tuff in Rionero in Vulture, the vinegrowing techniques follow organic and biodynamic management. The strong vocation for research, enhancing tradition and experimentation has led to the cultivation of another 40 varieties historically grown in Lucania. The winery also organizes guided tours in the Vulture area.

Eleano, founded at the start of the new millennium, covers 5 hectares of vineyards planted with Aglianico in the Pian dell’Altare area in the municipality of Ripacandida. The building that will house the new cellar and welcome area for cultural events and tastings is almost finished. As well as Eleano, Dioniso and Teseo, three Aglianico wines, you can also taste Fedra, Malvasia di Basilicata and Ambra, a late harvest Moscato.

The Piccin family left Tuscany to move to Venosa to set up the Grifalco winery, a made-up name, a cross between the mythological Griffin and the falcon, an animal that is often seen in the Vulture region. The aim was to carry out new research on the production of Aglianico del Vulture and to increase the prestige of this welcoming and gratifying region.

Where to eat

Convento Wine Space, in Barile: a wine shop with a kitchen, but also a space dedicated to promoting Aglianico del Vulture and the whole region as part of a wider project “Aglianica Wine Festival”.

Incanto Accademia dei Piacevoli, in Venosa (0972 36082): elegant surroundings, selected ingredients and sought-after dishes with courses inspired by the Roman poet Horace, native to this area.

Al Baliaggio, in Venosa (0972 35081): in the town centre. Casual surroundings and local cuisine.

Where to sleep

B&B Cantuccio del Vulture, in Monticchio (Rionero in Vulture)

Hotel Relais Masserie del Falco, in Forenza in the centre of Basilicata

Hotel Venusia, in Venosa

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