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Those of us in northern Europe are still waiting for summer to arrive. Summer solstice yesterday, Midsummer Day on Sunday and a weekend of gales and relentless rain is forecast. Time for something warming then, a wine that in the southern hemisphere might also offer midwinter comfort. (As for those of you reading this in a North American heatwave, I imagine you have that air conditioning turned up to max…)
Bisceglia, Gudarrà 2008 Aglianico del Vulture is just the wine to cheer us all up. It's made from another of my favourite grape varieties Aglianico and grown on the volcanic soils of Basilicata (homeland, incidentally, of film director and wine producer Francis Ford Coppola). It is also unusually mature for a wine in commercial circulation, especially on offer from UK supermarket chain Waitrose (though admittedly only online and in three of their smartest stores). It's also available in Germany and, of course, Italy, while the equally delicious by now 2007 (see my 2011 tasting note) and rather tougher 2006 (see Richard's 2010 tasting note) are relatively easy to find in the United States.
Aglianico has a wonderful combination of structure and fruit, though it ripens late and can be grown only in relatively warm climates. The grapes for this wine were not picked until late October, and were picked by hand. After a 10-day fermentation, the wine was aged for 12 months in new barriques. Gudarrà, the name of their top bottling (which has won several three-glass awards in Italy), derives from a local word for 'enjoy', which chimes well with me. Waitrose are always very good at giving tech specs so here are the numbers for this particular wine: 'Alc 14.0%, TA 5.6g/l, pH 3.57, RS 2.0g/l. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.'
The 2008 is very dark and dramatic-looking and from the very first taste you know that a lot of that lovely summer sunshine is trapped in this bottle. Unlike the 2006 when tasted a couple of years ago, this wine is already attractively mature and supple - I should imagine that the 2007 has reached a similar stage of development by now. I recommend that you take advantage of this well-priced wine that has a certain volcanic smokiness and real complexity about it. It carries its alcohol extremely well. A southern Italian for claret lovers?
Bisceglia wines are imported into the UK by Bibendum Wine and into the US by WineBow. The winery was founded by Mario Bisceglia, who returned to his roots from the food business in 2001, hiring architects Hikaru Mori and Domenico Santomauro to build him an extremely smart winery. He owns 100 hectares of local vine varieties round the wine town of Lavello.
We will be publishing a set of tasting notes on a good 100 wines currently on sale at Waitrose soon.
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