Aglianico is a red wine grape varietal grown in the Campania and Basilicata regions of Italy. It is believed the vine was first cultivated in Greece by the Phocaeans from an ancestral vine that ampelographers have yet to identify. From Greece it was brought to Italy in the 6th century B.C. by settlers to Cumae near modern-day Pozzuoli (around the coast from Napoli), and from there spread to other areas across Italy.
In ancient Rome, the grape was the key component of the world's earliest first-growth wine, Falernian. Aglianico was commented on by Pliny the Elder, the maker of some of the highest-rated wines in Roman times. The grape was called Ellenico - the Italian word for Greek - until the 15th century when it acquired its current name Aglianico.

 

Recently with modern technology, DNA analysis has not found any close relationship with known Greek varietals. In Basilicata, Aglianico forms the basis for the region's only D.O.C.G wine, Aglianico del Vulture, and is concentrated around the areas of Matera and Potenza. The most regarded wines of Aglianico del Vulture come from the vineyards located around the dormant volcano Mount Vulture. In Campania, the area near the village of Taurasi produces Aglianico's only D.O.C.G wine, also called Taurasi. In Campania, it is also the main grape of Aglianico del Taburno and Falerno del Massico.
The Aglianico vine tends to bud early and grows best in dry climates with generous hours of sunshine and seems to thrive particularly well in volcanic soils. The grape has a tendency to ripen late, with harvest dates as late as November in some parts of southern Italy. Though if the grape is picked too early, or with high yields, the grape can have aggressive tannins.

Aglianico wines tend to be very dark in colour, full-bodied with firm tannins, good structure and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential. The wines rich flavours make them ideal for pairing with game dishes. As they age, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins soften with the rest of the wine. Aromas and flavours of dark fruits, tobacco, dark chocolate and earthy notes.
In Campania, the grape has been blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot making I.G.P wines. The recent 2014 Italian vineyard census recorded almost 10,000 hectares of the grape varietal. The Basilicata region is characterized by extremes of temperature and climate and mountainous terrain, where on the regions upper slopes the finest wines are made. There are also youthful expressions of the wine, sometimes semi-sweet and even sparkling wines, but it is the dry ‘vecchio’ or ‘riserva’ wines, after ageing in oak casks, that are of high interest.