Grapes were introduced to Basilicata by the ancient Greeks when they colonized the area in the sixth century B.C. This explains the name of the region's best-known grape variety, Aglianico, which is derived from the Greek word “Hellenic.” The most important wine region extends around the Monte Vulture volcano in northwestern Basilicata. The DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) Aglianico del Vulture has gained a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in Italy. The richness of the volcanic soil and elevation of the vineyards result in wines that, compared with other southern Italian reds, are elegant but robust.
Among the best winemakers is Elena Fucci, who began making wine here in 2000 while completing her oenological studies. Fucci’s grapes come from vineyards that her family has owned since the ’60s. Her lush red, Titolo, has an intense ruby color and a complex nose, with notes of citrus, lavender, blackberry jam and tea. It has received high praise from Robert Parker and a place on Wine Spectator’s Tasting Highlights of 2017 list. Fucci offers tours of her vineyards and cellars, along with a tasting and light lunch. Book in advance.
The venerable winery Paternoster Vini has been crafting wines since 1925. It now has a striking new high-tech winery, located in the Valle del Titolo district, on the family-owned Villa Rotondo estate. The 2013 Don Anselmo, named for the winery’s founder, is a gorgeous red made from grapes grown at an elevation of nearly 2,000 feet. Aged in barrels of Slavonian oak and French barriques, it is distinguished by a balsam nose, potent but balanced tannins and a velvety finish.
Another excellent local producer offering cellar tours and tastings is Cantine del Notaio. Its Il Repertorio, Il Sigillo and La Firma wines are aged in French oak casks in subterranean cellars that were excavated by Franciscan monks in the early 17th century. Our favorite wine was the 2015 Il Repertorio, a suave, well-balanced, richly flavored 100 percent Aglianico wine, which pairs brilliantly with roasted meats and game.