Five years down the track, and having survived a mauling by a flock of errant sheep, we finally received our first crop of Aglianico in 2014. “Great work guys!” I hear you say; but who or what is Aglianico? Over the years we have been on the hunt for another red varietal that could match the quality of Mataro, Grenache and Shiraz in the Barossa Valley. Our search confirmed that all roads lead to Rome and we decided that Aglianico from Basilicata, Italy was to be our new muse. With very little Aglianico planted in the Barossa Valley we turned to Andy, John and Barb Kalleske to plant some for us.
While many can attest to me getting a bit enthusiastic, maybe even carried away early on, I am very happy to hang my hat on Aglianico having a great future in the Valley. In the face of a difficult vintage it showed complex aromatics, length of flavour, grip and balance as juice and certainly followed this up as finished wine. Yes, it does get warm in the beautiful Barossa Valley but this grape variety did not bat an eyelid.
Our first Aglianico wines 2014 Mates Aglianico Mataro blend and 2014 Izway ‘Angelo’ Aglianico look good when they really have no right to based on young vine age and a difficult vintage. Poor fruit set, heavy crop (cut back pre version), no rain except for massive Feb downpour etc. – the results, in my opinion, are really exciting and bode well for a ‘normal’ Valley vintage, hell even half normal!
The ’14 Mates is, as usual, fresh and vibrant and our take on Beaujolais Village, if you like. But the ’14 Mates has a new-found spice, grip and savoury edge thanks to the addition of the Aglianico. It works seamlessly with it’s new best mate Mataro
Without a good range of wines and some critical praise, alternative varietals remain, well, just that. Aglianico deserves better and it is my hope that it becomes a major force in the Barossa Valley in the years to come.
by Brian Conway