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BASILICATA

 

Our dear friend Giampaolo Chiettini, consulting winemaker for numerous producers in Italy, has been very excited about the potential for the wines made of Aglianico grapes in the region of Basilicata (highlighted in red on the map of Italy).


 

 


The neighboring region to the west is Campania (highlighted in red below).

The Taurasi wines of Campania are made of Aglianico and have been famous for years amongst hard-core Italian wine fans.


Basilicata has but one DOC (denominazione di Origine Controllata), that being Aglianico del Vulture.   It's a sleepy place. 

The Monte Vulture is the centerpiece of the region.  Its volcanic slopes produce a potentially interesting wine.  I was impressed with the wines I tasted during my brief bit of espionage in the towns where Aglianico is about to blossom into a more famous wine.

The name Aglianico comes from some reference to the Greeks and it's "Hellenic" background.  I found this sign in the town of Barile in both Italian and something like Albanian.  



I stayed in the town of Barile, a bit of a hub of Aglianico producers.  It's clear the region is not much of a tourist area.  The hotel of note is the Locanda del Palazzo.

You wouldn't know there's a wonderful dining room in the place, since not mention of 'ristorante,' 'trattoria' or 'osteria' is to be found outside the place.  No menu is posted, either, so the place is likely to remain one known solely to the locals, me and, now, you.


Locanda del Palazzo
Piazza Caracciolo 7
Barile (Potenza)
Telephone: 0972   771 051  (fax) 0972  770 658

The restaurant is in the back of the place, up some stairs to the second level.  The ceilings are high and the place is bright and elegant.  

Proprietor Rino Botti has a lovely wine list featuring all the top local bottlings.  His wife Lucia is in the kitchen and produces good, elegant, refined cooking.

I arrived on a cool, windy winter evening and found the hotel accommodations to be well more fancy than I am accustomed to and the cuisine to be very fine.


Eggplant "sformato" with a sauce of peppers.


Tagliatelle con Scampi, Basilico, Mentuccia & Zucchini.

The main plate was Capretto (kid goat) al Forno with

Verdure di Campo all'olio.

I had a bottle of Aglianico from a local grower's cooperative winery, the Cantina Sociale RF di Venosa.

Rino has taste for jazz music, so the voice of Diana Krall echoed through the dining room.

   

Chef Lucia starts by stirring the rice in some olive oil.


After a minute or two of stirring the rice, Lucia adds a bit of white wine.

I had been surprised by a friend's version of risotto which did not include the initial bit of liquid being wine.  I looked in a number of cookbooks and found many of them omit what I thought was a critical part of risotto-making.
Lucia says she ALWAYS adds white wine to start the cooking of the rice.

When the wine is about evaporated, Lucia starts to periodically ladle in some broth.

Notice she's already got her risotto "flavorings" in the saut pan on the stove, 

Meanwhile, she plates some grissini for the table.


Back to the stove and another ladle-full of broth.


The risotto is kept with a modest amount of liquid, added every-so-often, as needed to keep the rice from burning and sticking to the pot.


As the risotto is nearing the moment of being "al dente," Lucia then adds the contents of the vegetable and herb mixture that was in the pan adjacent to the rice pot.


She is vigilant and constantly keeps an eye on the risotto, giving it a stir every minute or so.


Now she's back to the cutting board and working on a piece of Parmigiano.


Back to the risotto...


Lucia then has some butter ready to add to the the risotto, giving it a nice texture and smoothness.


At this stage she starts refining the seasoning, adding some salt and pepper.


The butter is then added.


Then Lucia incorporates the Parmigiano into the risotto.


Now we're getting closer to perfection.


More cheese, more salt and, now, more broth.

After about 20 minutes, or so, the risotto is ready!



A final adjustment to the seasoning...
...and then lunch is served!

The restaurant has its own label made for it by one of the local Aglianico "mafia."


But Rino and Vito Paternoster (Paternoster is a name synonymous with Aglianico del Vulture) are producing a small quantity of wine under the brand name of Macarico.

Rino and Lucia's daughter comes home from school for "pranzo."

Smart kid!



I visited the top Aglianico producers in the region...







Paternoster is a mix of traditional winemaking and modern-styled wines.




We tasted Vito's wonderfully modern Aglianico called "Rotondo," a dark, deep red with dark fruit aromas and nice, sweet oak.

We then headed over to the Macarico cellars, just a few steps away from the Paternoster winery.

Our pal Giampaolo Chiettini is their consulting winemaker and based upon what we tasted, I'd say he's doing a good job.

The local cooperative winery is the Consorzio di Viticoltori Aglianico del Vulture and it's run by the other Paternoster brother, Sergio!

The coop sells a nice range of wines in bottle, but you can also bring your empty 'jugs' and demi-johns and have them filled up.





Sergio Paternoster.

The Italians love bubbles and the coop even makes a sparkling red wine of Aglianico, called Ellenico.



We visited one of the neighboring towns and the Cantina del Notaio, run by the guy with the longest last name of anybody in the region, Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti.

 

One of the best properties is that called Elena Fucci.  Elena's father Salvatore gives her a big hand in the vineyard and in the winery.





The Elena Fucci 2001 Aglianico del Vulture was sensational.
I was thrilled that we were able to buy some bottles for our customers back in Burlingame!

 

WINERIES OF NOTE:

MACARICO (Rino Botti & Vito Paternoster Collaboration)
Call Rino at the Locanda del Palazzo in Barile
Telephone: (39) 0972 771 051 

AZIENDA AGRICOLA ELENA FUCCI
ctr. Solagna del Titolo s.n.c. - 85022 Barile (PZ)
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 770736
www.titolovinifucci.it

AZIENDA VINICOLA PATERNOSTER
via Nazionale, 23 - 85022 Barile (PZ)
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 770224 / (39) 0972 770658

e-mail:  paternoster.vini@tiscalinet.it

CANTINA DI VENOSA
via Appia - Localit Vignali - 85029 Venosa (PZ) 
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 36702 / (39) 0972 35891

www.cantinedivenosa.it
e-mail: info@cantinadivenosa.it  

CONSORZIO VITICOLTORI ASSOC. DEL VULTURE
s.s. 93 - 85022 Barile (PZ)
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 770386
www.coviv.com
e-mail........: coviv@tiscalinet.it

CASA VINICOLA D'ANGELO S.N.C.
via Provinciale, 8 - 85028 Rinero in Vulture (PZ)
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 721517 / (39) 0972 723495
e-mail: dangelowine@tiscali.it

CANTINE DEL NOTAIO DI G. GIURATRABOCCHETTI
via Roma, 159 - 85028 Rionero in Vulture
Tel./Fax.....:(39) 0972 717111 / (39) 0972 717140
 www.cantinedelnotaio.com
e-mail........: gerardo.giura@tin.it

AZIENDA AGRICOLA BASILISCO
via Umberto I, 129 -  85028 Rionero in Vulture (PZ)
Tel./Fax.....: (39) 0972 725477 - 720032 / (39) 0972 725477 - 715960
e-mail........: basilisco@interfree.it

I had the opportunity for one more dinner at the Locanda del Palazzo restaurant...



Orecchieti con Brocoletti & Pomodori e Pepperoni Secchi in Padella.

The main plate went very well with the Aglianico del Vulture of Basilisco, the 2000 vintage.

Coscioto di Agnello all'origano selvatica.




The visit to Basilicata was delightful.  It is well off the beaten path, but I was making a nice little enological "loop" from Campania to Basilicata to Puglia and then to Abruzzo before returning "home" to Toscana.

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