We drove through Irpinia to reach the destination of my first Vineyard Hopping outside of Campania. I sat shotgun, looking out the window as a familiar CAMPANIA became BASILICATA…I was on my way to Tenuta I Gelsi for a taste of the aglianico next door. A taste of Aglianico del Vulture in the province of Potenza a couple of hours from home.
Gelsi means mulberry, and we were greeted by two rows of mulberry trees as we made a left onto the gravel driveway. Hard not to notice the soil. Volcanic, yes, but not what I was used to in Campania. Here extinct volcano Mount Vulture was the king along with nearby volcanic craters, now known as the Monticchio Lakes.
Over 800,000 years of geological history was evident in the layers formed in the soil of a renovation project next to the winery. Calcareous clayey soil, packed with potassium. It was there where we pulled up, parked, and were greeted by Ruggiero Potito, ready to take us on a stroll through the nearby Aglianico vineyards.
Beautiful bunches of plump grapes ripening in the sun…basking in the sunlight . And it was here, in the midst of this vineyard that I learned quite a bit about this young winery. Previously the family sold their grapes to other wineries. But back in 2003 they decided to bottle and sell their own wine as Azienda Agricola Ofanto, named after the river that runs in a nearby valley. A winery continously evolving, finding their niche, and making changes. Back in 2010, for example, a major one...they decided to change their name. Other changes over the past couple of years include changes in labeling and the edition of enologist Carmine Valentino from Irpinia to the team. I was curious to hear more...but in the cool comfort of the winery.
After a quick tour around the stainless steel vats, French barriques, and Valentino’s new Slovenian oak barrels, it was time to sit down and wine taste.
The first glass poured, however, was not an Aglianico. It was an intense aromatic glass of Malvasia. Gelso Bianco Basilicato Bianco IGT 2011. A white wine that spent 3 months on the lees after being harvested in the early part of last September. It had only been in the bottle a couple of months, and expressed intense aromas of apples and citrus as well as an interesting acidity.
We continued the degustazione with something fresh and light...a rose' made with aglianico del vulture from the highest part of the vineyard. Gelso Rosa Basilicata Rosato IGT 2011. A light introduction to Baslicata's aglianico with a deep pink color, light fruit flavor.
Time to pass over to Aglianico del Vulture in purezza...beginning with Tenuta I Gelsi's base red Gelso Rosso Basilicata IGT 2009 vintage. This wine, produced from grapes from their youngest vineyards shared intense aromas as it left the bottle and was poured into the glass. Stainless steel only, no time in wood.
One more wine on our list to taste...Aglianico del Vulture Basilicata DOC 2008. This glass of dark ruby red spent 12 months in French oak barriques. That was the wineries direction back in 08...back before this wine became a DOCG (vintage year 2011) and before Valentino switched to Slovenian oak barrels. But not before this wine developed its intense aromas that continued to evolve in our glasses. Full of flavor. A perfect place to end my introduction to Basilicacta.
I'd like to come back, maybe when Valentino was around, and taste a few samples from the stainless steel vats, or maybe from the Slovenian oak barrels.
And I'd like to come back and try their passito made with 100 % Moscato grapes. A glass would be perfect at the end of a casual picnic lunch at the nearby Monticchio Lakes. A slice or two of gorgonzola hmmm...
And it wouldn't be too hard to return. After all, Basilicata is just next door...
Tenuta I Gelsi
Contrada Paduli, Monticchio Bagni
85020 Rioner in Vulture (Pz)
39 0972 080289