Paternoster, Don Anselmo, Aglianico del Vulture
Paternoster is a winery in the village of Barile, right at the foot of the Monte Vulture at the southern end of the Apennines. It is nestled in at the north of Basilicata on the borders with Campania and Puglia. Made from Aglianico grapes, this is the flagship wine of this estate and is one of the most consistently highly-awarded wines in the appellation.
Made using very traditional methods and as little intervention as possible, this wine gets the very best grapes of the estate from vines that are an average of 50 years old, grown at 600 metres above sea level. This severely reduces the potential yield and radically increases the potential quality. After fermentation, the wine is aged half in large Slavonian oak barrels and half in French oak barriques before resting another year in bottle.
The result is a massive wine; powerful, yet vibrant and balanced wine, red fruits, leather, balsamic herbs and dark roasted herbs and spices. The 2013 vintage was nearly perfect - nothing went wrong; a long, warm ripening period that was never too hot or humid (quite a feet on a volcano), resulting in this rich, powerful, elegant and complex wine.
Robert Parker 96 points; Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Rosso
Basilicata is a fascinating Italian region; at the southern arch of Italy's boot and straddling its toe, the region has coastline in the gulf of Taranto (the Ionian sea) and the Tyrrhenian sea. It's extremely poor as a region and has very low tourist numbers on account of its relative inaccessibility - nearly half of the region is mountainous - and the historic neglect of successive Italian governments of centuries past. The cuisine is certainly 'rustico' and a majority of wines fall in suit.
But in the north of the province of Potenza at the north of the region, bordering Campania and Puglia, there is the dominating mountain of Vulture. This volcano (yes, Italy and volcanoes again) gives the surrounding vineyards poor quality, black, volcanic soils and the red Aglianico variety that grows there is its perfect match. The proximity of the mountain and the widespread context of mountains, gives altitudes of between 450 and 600 metres above sea level. It's the very end of the Apennines and though the latitude is on par with Morocco, the altitude and southerly winds maintain freshness and balance in the grapes to such an extent that these are among the last harvested vineyards in Italy each year, with collection often ending only in the second week of November. It's a bit like an unlikely diamond or finding a miraculous pearl when all around there is very little else.
Try this then and be part of a very historic region and winemaking process that has roots in Roman and Greek times. Paternoster translates as The Lord's Prayer and one can imagine the supplications being made in a context such as this... It's also the family surname - Don Anselmo Paternoster was the first owner of the estate to really see and realise the potential in the land at the foot of the volcano.