Sunday, 14 April 2024

Foodie Freak: Aglianico

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Huh?! What! Angel and co? What kind of wine is that?


How about it I put it this way. To continue my comparison of wines to celebrities … Karen David is an Aglianico (Ah-lee-AH-nee-koh). Still not helping huh? Well that’s kind of my point. Aglianico is an Italian red wine that most people have never heard of, just as many people don’t recognize the name Karen David.


Karen David is the female lead of “Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior” for American readers, and one of the new stars of the series “Waterloo Road” on BBC for the Brits.


She also co-starred with Steven Seagal in “Flight of Fury,” and you’ve probably seen her in one of many smaller parts like in “Batman Begins” and “Couples Retreat.”


When you see her you will most likely make an inescapable exclamation of “WOW!” That’s true of Aglianico also, it has “WOW!” It is described as a charismatic, full flavored, beautiful wine. It’s not a meek wine.


Aglianico isn’t native to Italy as the name may imply, it comes from Greece. The Greeks brought the Aglianico vines to Italy over 2,000 years ago (some say seventh century BCE) and the vines loved the climate and the volcanic soil. Aglianico thrived and became adored in Italy.


Its Latin name “Vitus Hellenico” means “Grape of the Greeks.” The word Aglianico is said to be a corruption of “Hellenicos” (Greek). The vine was called “Hellenicos” up until the 15th century when the current name became popular.


Another belief is that the name came from “Apulianicum” which is an ancient Roman term for the southern part of Italy. Oddly enough, after its introduction from Greece to Italy, Aglianico disappeared from Greece.


Karen David was born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, grew up in Toronto, and went to school in England, so like the Aglianico vines she hasn’t remained in her country of origin either; she does however continue to be involved in Indian-related productions. Although Karen David speaks North American English, the astute listener will be able to pick up slight traces of a London accent.


Karen David’s father is from the Madras (Chinnai) area of India, and her mother is half Chinese, half Khasi (North East Indian). Aglianico is one on Italy’s three noble grapes (Sangiovese and Nebbiolo being the other two). Aglianico is sometimes called “The Barolo of the South,” not because of similarities of the taste but due to the stature of both of the wines in their respective regions.


Aglianico is frequently said to be “full bodied with firm tannins and silky texture,” and if I say anything about Karen David right now in comparison I will only get in trouble. You can make your own conclusions later, let’s just move on.


In all seriousness, although Aglianico isn’t heavily planted in California most experts agree that, with the number of Italian winemakers in California, Aglianico is going to rise greatly in popularity and planting in the near future. Karen David, being an accomplished singer, songwriter, model and actress, is bound to have the same path of increasing popularity.


Flavor descriptors of Aglianico can be anise, butterscotch, cassis (currants), cherries, chocolate, coffee, cola (some wine tasters will even give specific cola brands), earth, figs, leather, minerals, pepper, prunes, raspberries and weeds.


While it can be drunk young, Aglianico improves with age. It may be released for sale at three years aged (called veccio, two of which years must be aged in wood), or five years (riserva, two years must be aged in wood) or maybe even 10 years, which will improve it.


This is a wine that you can enjoy today or want to watch for the next several years; just like Karen David, who is great now but something to watch for the next few years. Conversely, although Karen David was born in 1979 she appears to have stopped aging in 1999. Talk about improving with age!


Aglianico is popular and grown heavily in the Basilicata Aglianico del Vulture region of Italy. Livia Kurtz of Rosa de’Oro Winery so elegantly pronounces it “Ah-lee-AH-nee-koh del vool-TOOR-ay,” far more poetic than the carrion eating buzzard pronunciation that I would have said. I probably would butcher Karen David’s middle name Shenaz as well. Aglianico is also popular in Campania’s Taurasi DOC (Italy’s version of a AVA, American Viticultural Area).


Karen David describes her music as “exotic pop,” so if you want to experience a cherry cola bombshell like Karen David, try a bottle of Aglianico; both of them will becoming household names soon.


Lake County Aglianico


Rosa d’Oro Winery



Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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