Basilicata, in southern Italy, is a region whose name crops up only very rarely in wine circles. It is home to just four DOCs, while the remaining 98% is sold either under IGT titles or – more likely – Vino di Tavola.
Winemaking in Basilicata dates back over a thousand years. While in central and northern Italy it was the Etruscans and Romans who pioneered local winemaking, in the south this task was largely undertaken by seafaring Greeks. Basilicata was also influenced by the Byzantines, who ruled the area during two distinct periods in both the 6th and 9th centuries and gave the region its current name (from Greek basilikos, meaning prince and governor).
It was under during the Middle Ages that Aglianico (then known as Ellenico) took its place as the leading wine grape variety – although recent theories lean towards the introduction of the grape (known as vino de llanos, or wine of the plains) under Aragonese rule in the late Middle Ages.
Basilicata may not be a particularly affluent region, yet it is rich in natural beauty. Predominantly landlocked, it features stunning mountain and hill ranges. In fact it is one of the most mountainous regions in Italy.
Compared to the rest of Italy, the total wine production in Basilicata is very small: less than 500,000 hL, of which only 3% comes under the DOC designation. The main area for viticulture lies in the heart of the fertile Vulture Massif in the north, located around the extinct volcano of Mount Vulture on volcanic soils. In this hilly territory the local variety, Aglianico del Vulture, reigns, producing quality wines which exhibit fine aromas and flavors.
The future appears brighter for Basilicata. The established DOC Aglianico del Vulture has gained an excellent reputation for some of the finest wines in Italy.