Introduced to Italy by the Greeks as Hellenica, which translates as angelic, Aglianico is Italy's oldest grape.
In the right vintage, the fruit and structure of an Aglianico can be just as age-worthy and powerful as a good Barolo. Fortunately for us New York shoppers, few people know and understand the value of this wine, so the prices are still low and there are many great deals to be found.
Aglianico should have a deep ruby and garnet color with a tinge of orange around the edges. Old world in style, a good Aglianico will be balanced with mushroom earthiness and berry fruit followed by deep tannins. Great with pasta or meat, these are perfect wines to combat the winter cold.
Our house favorite is the 2001 Venosa ($16.99) currently only available at Sherry-Lehmann (679 Madison Avenue, between 61st and 62nd). Of the two available at Astor Wines (12 Astor Place), the better choice is the 2001 Ocone ($13.99). Garnet Wines and Spirits (929 Lexington Avenue, between 68th and 69th) has both the Ocone and the prolific producer Feudi di San Gregoria ($13.00), who rarely disappoints.