December Imported Wine: 2011 La Quercia Aglianico IGT, Puglia, ITALY

Winemaker Antonio Lamona is a “true blue,” grizzled farmer-type, who is both utterly likeable and totally invested in his wines. Although his father also grew grapes, Antonio is the first in the family to bottle his own and, beginning in the late sixties, he began cultivating vines that are entirely organic. As Antonio says, “we are very proud to make organic wines–we believe this is the way to obtain the highest quality while also respecting nature and human health.” All grapes are hand-picked and pressed within two hours of harvest. Located on a windy hillside with a vista of the Adriatic Sea, Antonio’s farm is entirely self-sustaining: they produce their own salami, bread, vegetables, olive oil, and cheese.

La Quercia is an uncertified organic estate, and this wine, harvested from a single cru owned by the family in Puglia, really delivers. True, you won’t find a “discoteca” within a hundred miles of the place, but in terms of sheer, natural beauty and down-to-earth hospitality, there’s no better place to see.

History of Aglianico and its Relation to La Quercia:  Aglianico, pronounced roughly “ahl-YAH-nee-koe” is a black grape grown in the Basilicata and Campania regions of Italy. The vine originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. The name may be a corruption of vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine.  Another etymology posits a corruption of Apulianicum, the Latin name for the whole of southern Italy in the time of ancient Rome. During this period, it was the principal grape of the famous Falernian wine, the Roman equivalent of a first-growth wine today.

A ‘La Quercia’ is a majestic oak tree that grows in southern Italy. From Antonio’s single vineyard site in southern Italy, he offers this inspired Aglianico. This wine represents one of Italy’s most noble grape varietals. Above all, Antonio believes in respecting the earth: “I want to make wines that please the body and the spirit.”

Pronounciation:  La Quercia (la-KWIR-cha) 

Varietal:  100% Aglianico 

Alcohol:  13.0% by volume

Tasting Notes:  From the master of Montepulciano, Antonio Lamona delivers his signature combination of power and finesse with one of the most difficult varietals of all: Aglianico. With the classic ripe plum and white pepper notes that this Noble varietal is known for, it is a rare opportunity to taste Aglianico in a fresh, immediate style, that deftly manages the soft tannins. Delightful for everyday enjoyment! 

Food Pairings:  Perfect with pomodoro pasta or meat off the grill! Also serve with seared Ahi tuna with plum sauce and grilled polenta cakes-an ideal pairing.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts:   “Rich and loaded with flavor. Terroir based wine that has flavors of cedar, tobacco, and berries, with a long and lingering finish.”-JL