Aglianico is a grape with a great and ancient history. It was the main varietal used in Falernian the most sought after wine in the Roman Empire, made famous by poets and philosophers. It is believed to have been brought to Italy by the Greeks in the 6th Century B.C. And, though it was almost fully wiped out by the scourge of phylloxera in Europe in the 19th century, it still thrives in the southern regions of Italy. In Campania and Basilicata Aglianico is made into a black, inky wine with rich exotic flavors the invoke the volcanic hillsides where it is grown.
Aglianico isn't often found outside of Italy. It has been tried out in other wine growing regions throughout the world with varying levels of success. Of course if anyone might experiment successfully with a random, exotic grape it would be the winemakers of California and even more specifically those in Paso Robles. The wineries there have made there name cultivating the varietals of the Rhone and Italy. Something about the terroir in this still not very well known wine region makes these grapes thrive. And something about the winemakers there makes these wines awesome... Lucky for us.
We first had this Caparone Aglianico last year in San Diego. We were attracted to its Old Hollywood art deco label, and the fact that it was a very rarely seen wine. Caparone is one of the oldest, small production wineries in Paso Robles, specializing in reds made with a minimalist approach at a minimal price. This 2005 Aglianico has that beautiful black-purple color of its Italian counterpart. On the nose the wine has blackberry and plum aromas with underlying hints of caramel and tobacco. On the palate it is a luscious mouth full of dark fruit and volcanic earthiness. A really lovely wine at only $15 a bottle!