Thursday, September 04, 2008

All Aboard for Basilicata in September

On the instep of the boot of Italy there is a region with two stretches of coastline, lots of mountains, and a history of habitation that stretches past the Romans, through the Greeks, and into the depths of the Paleolithic period. It's a forbidding landscape, with craggy peaks and rough seas punctuated by more tranquil harbors that are not for the faint of heart. (photo of Maratea's coastline by mozzercork)

The people of the region are known for two things--their deep faith (they've had more earthquakes in this region than in most, so that faith has been tested), and their ability to resist the attempts of their more powerful neighbors, pirates, and invaders from the sea. In the 18th century, a bandit named Angelo Duca lived in the hills of Basilicata, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor and earning himself the heroic reputation of an Italian Robin Hood.

As regular readers know, I'm drinking my way around Italy this year, hitting all the regions I can before 2009. It's already clear to me I'm going to want to continue discovering great Italian wine next year, and finish up with the remaining 9 or 10 that I won't get to in 2008. (photo "Flowers on Second Floor" by kirtaph).

This month I'll be drinking some of Basilicata's wines to see if they have the same rugged individualism as the land and the people. Basilicata has no indigenous grapes. The Greeks brought over Aglianico--a corruption of Hellenico in the local dialect--and began planting it around Mount Vulture. It spread from there throughout the region, and today Mount Vulture remains a center for viticulture in the region.

I've got a red (with Aglianico in it, of course) and a white (wait until I tell you about that--it's made from varieties that may surprise you). As I learn more about the wines of Basilicata, I'm struck by the range they represent from the simple and unpretentious to the elegant and quirky. ("Wine is a Cultural Product," by jntolva. You can read about John's trip to his ancestral homeland of Basilicata on his blog--it's a terrific story, full of the wine, food, places, and people of the region).

This is my first foray into the wines of Basilicata, so if you have any tips to help me and others on this journey of discovery, please leave them in the comments below.

1 comment:

Winenegress said...

I look forward to reading more. Keep up the good work.