2009 Westend Estate Calabria Private Bin Aglianico

Aglianico is an underrated red grape variety that has flown under the radar somewhat in Australia. With Sangiovese and Tempranillo increasing in popularity, production and market share, heat and drought tolerant varieties such as Aglianico should have an important role to play in the consideration of our future wine production. As global warming thunders down on the planet, its ability to produce deeply coloured, aromatic wines with high acid levels makes Aglianico an ideal variety to cultivate in dry, warm regions such as the Riverland. 
Referred to as the "Barolo of the South" because of certain similarities to the famous Nebbiolo of Piemonte, it is more the stature in its southern indigenous regions of Campania and Basilicata that has made this such a rich and elegant variety. The signature wines that come from the grape are Campania's D.O.C.G Taurasi - from the Irpinia region - and Bsilicata's D.O.C. Aglianico del Vulture, grown on the high volcanic soils of Mount Vulture.   

Aglianico's ancient origins take it back to cultivation in Roman times from a variety thought to have been introduced centuries earlier by Greek colonisers, researchers thinking that its age to be around 2800 years old! Gives a different perspective to the saying as old as the hills, doesn't it ? The grape's name is also thought to be a corruption of the Vitis Hellenica, the Italian for Greek vine, which lasted until the 15th century when its present name took effect.   

After winning the Best Red Wine trophy at the 2010 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show with the varietal 2008 Calabria Aglianico, the judges in their wisdom created a new red wine class/category for the Aglianico variety starting the following year. Westend Estate was one of the first to plant the variety in Australia in 2005 according to Chief Winemaker Bryan Currie and has since then become its largest grower here and indeed in the world outside of Italy with 12 hectares under vine. There are some plantings across California, notably the Alexander Valley and Paso Robles but small comparatively.

The Calabria Aglianico is deep ruby in colour. An intriguing and heady mix on the nose of sour cherry, raspberry, black pepper and dark chocolate with funky smokey notes, which are really attractive. Subtle hints of lavender and mint leaf too. Quite minerallly on the palate with dry cocoa powder tannins. A tart savoury acid grip keeps the rich fruit flavours across the mid-palate, balanced. There is a silky textured mouthfeel at the back end but with that earthy quality common to some European varieties. A long, satisfying and savoury finish. Medium to full bodied and complex, this wine is all about fire and brimstone yet at the same time there is seductive elegance about it. 

It tasted better the second night where more bold plum, strawberry, dark liquorice and tar notes came to the fore. I loved this wine, there's plenty to suggest it will age beautifully for another five years at least. For its quality at this price point, it is highly recommended.  

Source: Winery Sample. Alcohol: 14.0%. Closure: Screwcap. Price: $14.95. Rating: 93+ Points.
Website: http://www.westendestate.com.au/index.php

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