An unusual sparkling wine to cap off another unusual, pandemic ridden year and toasting to a new one with easy to make plant based nibbles.
Get to know Aglianico
To start the New Year, the Italian Food, Wine & Travel group takes on the powerful Aglianico grape. Native to Southern Italy, Aglianico is know for its structure, full tannins, and ability to retain acidity even in hot weather.
Primarily grown in the Italian regions of Campania and Basilicata, it is sometimes referred to as the "Barolo of the South". Due to its tannin and concentration, the wine has good aging potential and often requires time to soften.
To be honest, I sometimes find big, red wines to be intimidating. Is it the right year to open it? How long is too long to age? Is the food I chose hefty enough to match the wine?
When I found this rose of Aglianico, I immediately ran to it. It's sparkly, chilled, and something I could drink any night of the week without thinking about it too much.
2018 NV Mustilli Pet'nat Aglianico 'Regina Sofia
100% Aglianico; 11% ABV; $25
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, volcanic tuffeau soil, fermented in stainless steel, finished in bottle, crown cap, non-disgorged, no added So2; zero-zero
Sisters and winemakers Paola and Anna Chiara Mustilli have carried on the long tradition of their family's presence in Campania, Italy stemming all the way back to the 1500s. Cesare Mustilli first planted vineyards in the 1700s in Santaocre.
Their winery, named after their family, was one of the pioneers of indigenous grape growing in Italy in the 70s. The sisters' father, Lenoardo, was the first to bottle and sell Falanghina in the town of Sant'Agata dei Goti, now an officail DOC. He also started making this petnat of Aglianico that the sisters brought back by popular demand from the locals.
The sisters also adopted organic farming very early on but refused to pay for official certification due to the number of mafia like payments they witnessed from neighboring wineries with questionable organic practices.
In addition to its bold, modern label, the wine itself is a beautiful cloudy pink color. Despite its Hello Kitty color palate, this wine has a nice balance of fruit forward sweetness with structure and faint tannins. Like a Judas kiss, this packs a friendly sour punch and would make a nice wake up up wine for brunch.
Instead, I chose to pair the wine with small Italian bites kissed with lemon and vinegar.
New Year Nibbles
I'm not the type of person that ever limits what I eat, but the New Year reminds me of trying new diets and making plans to change something in one's life.
In honor of that quest for new beginnings, I paired the wine with a healthy-ish, plant based, small bites menu that is most importantly easy to make.
- Olive Oil Fried Artichokes with a squeeze of fresh lemon
- Cannelini Bean crostini braised with garlic
- Winter Citrus Carpaccio with cara cara and organic navel oranges
- Kumato tomato bruschetta, aged balsamic vinegar
- Lidia's Cauliflower salad, black olives, capers, vinegar, parsley
The little new year nibbles with this rose worked beautifully! It helped that I had tasted a previous vintage of this wine before so had an idea of what to pair it with.
It worked most excellently with the sweet/sourness of the aged balsamic vinegar on the tomato bruschetta, making it more like raspberry pie. With the creamy white bean crostini, it cleansed the palate nicely and added fir, pine, and mint notes ot the wine. Juicy fruit with the citrus carpaccio and a nice acidic foil with the cauliflower salad.
With the fried artichokes, it did not work as well as I had hoped. Maybe the olive oil was too heavy? Or artichokes are notoriously hard to pair, and this may have been another example. It wasn't bad but not great like the other pairings.
The Last Drop
Aglianico is most famously known as a great, big red Italian wine, but it can also make a pretty lovely pet nat rose too.
For a rose that has a little bit of everything--acidity, sweetness, structure, fizziness, fruit--and zero sulfites, look for the Mustilli pet nat aglianico.
Learn more about Aglianico
Read more juicy posts about the wonderful world of Aglianico wines from the Italian Food, Wine & Travel writers:
- A Movie Set in Acerenza and Tumacë Me Tulë + Azienda Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Gudarra 2015 by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Enjoying Aglianico From the Vine with Pizza Montanara by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- From the Vine: Devouring Pizza, Donnachiara Aglianico Wine, and the Movie by Our Good Life
- How A Glorious Past Can Reinvent The Future in Basilicata by Grapevine Adventures
- Mila Vuolo’s Passion for Aglianico in Colli di Salerno IGT by Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley
- Organic Aglianico from Ciro Picariello by Avvinare
- Pairing Wine and a Movie: “From The Vine”and 2012 I Favati Cretarossa + Salsicce e Fagioli by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- Why Aglianico Rules Among Grapes of Southern Italy by My Full Wine Glass
- Why Aren’t you Drinking More Aglianico? by Vino Travels