Messer Oto -- 2018  Madonna delle Grazie -- Aglianico del Vulture

Messer Oto -- 2018 Madonna delle Grazie -- Aglianico del Vulture

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From the slopes of an extinct volcano in Basilicata (the ankle of the boot) to your door, and what a welcome guest! Basilicata is a byword in Italy for extreme poverty and this rural province has been drained of labor for generations as the young went in search of work. With so few helping hands, high quality wine making on a commercial scale becomes nearly impossible, leading producers who stuck it out turned to quantity for their living, a vicious cycle. Thankfully that cycle has stopped spinning in the past few decades and the Latoracca family are emblematic of this renewal. Father Giuseppe, with the help of his enologist sons, is the first of many generations of grape growers in the family to bottle his own wines. Aglianico’s name evolved from Ellenico, a reference to its supposed Greek origin, and while the grape was made into wine in the Greek colony of Cumae near present day Avellino, DNA profiling has failed to find a connection to any known Greek grape, and Aglianico may therefore have been a happy local discovery of the Greek colonists. Regardless, the affinity between the region’s volcanic soils and moderate elevation and Aglianico has stood the test of time. The name for this bottling comes from a fountain in Venosa, the town where the cantina resides next door to the church from which the cantina takes its name, and the label was drawn by another son who became an architect. The certified organic grapes for this wine come from younger vines that are fermented on the skins more briefly than wines made from their older vines and to make a more approachable version. The wine ages for 2 to 3 yr in stainless steel to preserve more freshness of the fruit flavors yet give the grapes ample tannins time to soften—this is no porch pounder, it shines brightest with fatty cuts of meat. Aromas of violets, fennel, blueberries and blackberries, flavors of mashed cherry and pit, bark, and more—so many layers. Was fantastic with Greek lamb meatballs with Tzatziki and pita.