Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Basilicata Region
The Basilicata Wine Region
Main Article Contents
The territory of Basilicata
Basilicata is a small, mostly hilly or mountainous region. The weather is mainly continental with Mediterranean characteristics, hot and dry, both in coastal areas and in inland areas of Matera hills. The Metapontino area alternates hot summers to mild winter and rainy seasons, enough dry and ventilated, ideal for the production of grapes, as the white berry ones Greco and Malvasia.Their wines have medium structure but with a great aromatic consistency. The soil of hilly area towards the Matera province is characterized by clay and sandy areas with marine sediments. Here the Greco and Primitivo varieties are cultivated. They give structured wines whith great complexity and aroma. The valley of alluvial and marine origin and its deep, fertile soils are ideal for the cultivation of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The area of the Vulture, in the northeastern part of the region, is particularly devoted to the cultivation of the Aglianico del Vulture variety. The viticultural land in the vicinity of the extinct volcano, are rich in potassium, which gives the wine freshness, flavor and minerality. During the usually dry summer months, the porosity of tuff ensures an adequate supply of moisture to the grape vines, thanks to the water accumulated in the winter months. The hilly of Matera has more attenuated Mediterranean characteristics thanks to altitudes up to 300 m. The summers are warm, dry and characterized by extreme temperature variations, good for the cultivation of Primitivo and Sangiovese varieties.
Basilicata and wine
Basilicata ia a small wine-growing region in terms of quantity, offering however interesting aspects both from the point of view of local varietise and of the quality of the wines. The region is largely mountainous, although it has two outlets to the sea, one on the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Gulf of Policastro and the other on the Ionian Sea, overlooking the Gulf of Taranto. The Lucano Apennines (mountains) characterize much of the region, with the main paeks of the Monte Pollino (2248m) to the south, on the border with Calabria, and the Monte Vulture (1326m) to the north. The total wine production of the region is 178,000 hl/year, of which 90% is represented by red wines and only 10% of white wines.
Viticulture in Basilcata
These mountains degrading into hills are particularly suited for the cultivation of the grape, especially at the feet of the Vulture. Even in Val d’Agri the particular weather conditions and the high altitude (cultivation of grapes till 500m) creates a good day-night and summer-winter thermal excursion that allows to obtain wines with surprising results. The weather is influenced by the orography of the territory, being more cold and rainy in mountainous parts, with continental characteristics, and milder towards the sea. The systems for grape cultivation are mainly Guyot and spurred cordon, although the traditional sapling cultivation is still used particularly in inaccessible and difficult areas . The total vineyard area in the region is about 4,000 hectares, of which 47% is located on mountainous terrain, 45% on the hills and only 8% in the plains.
The varieties and Appellations of Origin in Basilicata
The Aglianico del Vulture is the main grape variety in Basilicata, with more than 60% of the planted area, which represents 90% of the production of PDO and PGI wines. In the Val d’Agri (Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri DOC) and in the Roccanova area (Grottino di Roccanova DOC) Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Montepulciano are the most important grapes. In the Matera area the Primitivo represents the main variety, together with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other red grapes in the region are the Aleatico and the Bombino Nero. White grapes, although less common, include Malvasia bianca, the Verdeca, the Bombino Bianco and Chardonnay. There are four regional DOCs and one IGT. 8 PDO and PGI food appellation, among which the Pane di Matera IGP (bread).
The wine producing areas in Basilicata
The grown grapes and the different growing systems for wine grapes identify three wine areas in Basilicata: the Vulture, with some extensions in the Alto Bradano, the Val d’Agri and the Matera area, with hillsides sloping down to the Ionian sea.
The Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG is produced in vineyards having approximately 7000 plants/hectare and lower yields (5-6 t/hectare). The color of the wine is an impenetrable ruby red, the smell is elegant with hints of ripe red fruits ripe and morello cherries, licorice, cloves, black pepper and toasted notes due the maturation in barriques, eve if most producers are traditionally bounded to the use of big barrels. The strong tannins make this wine suitable for aging and perfect in combination with a “podolica” (wild cow) pepper steak.
The Val d’Agri area is located in the heart of the region, in the province of Potenza . It ‘s a very interesting area in which two of the four Basilicata DOCs are based. The vineyards are planted in rich, sandy and clay soils at altitudes till 600-700 meters where they can take advantage of the strong temperature fluctuations from August until mid-October. The wines of Val D’Agri (Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri DOC) and the Roccanova area (Grottino di Roccanova DOC) with the red grapes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Montepulciano give wines rich in texture, with hints of red fruits, spices and liquorice.
Finally, in vineyards sloping down to the Ionian Sea, the area of Matera DOC, with its red powerful wines based on Primitivo grape, with their nice raspberries and currants, white pepper and balsamic notes, their elegant tannins, especially if the wines originate from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blends, at their best when paired with tomatoes baked with flakes of seasoned pecorino cheese. The Matera Greco DOC is the only wine white denomination of the region, with its delicate perfumes of flowers and white peach and its strong flavor, a good pairing with spaghetti with mussels.
The Basilicata regional cuisine
The Basilicata cuisine has deep roots in the traditions and rural culture. These origins linked to the territory are found in the Pecorino di Filano DOP and Canestrato di Moliterno IGP, as well as in the Caciocavallo cheese, perfect with a glass of Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG. Equally interesting are the Luganiga (traditional cured sausage), lamb stews with potatoes, to be tasted with a Grottino di Roccanova DOC red wine. The famous the homemade pasta from durum wheat, as Strascinati or Macaroni with meat and Cacioricotta ragout, or the Cavatelli with Sarconi IGP beans paired with a Merlot from DOC Val d’Agri. The famous Pane di Matera IGP, a croissant-shaped bread produced with durum wheat of the Cappelli variety. Typical of the inner areas of the region is the only sea-flavoured recipe, the Cod with cruschi peppers, Senise IGP peppers dried and fried in extra virgin olive oil Vulture DOP, crisp and aromatic. This dish is often served with a white Malvasia or a Greco from the Ionian coast. Among the desserts, cookies with almonds and nuts and sweet cinnamon pancakes served with a sparkling Moscato Dolce from the Vulture area.