Eating our way around Matera was a blast but we were disappointed with the wine selection. None of our favorite Basilicata wine producers were to be found. We reminisced about our first trip to Basilicata. It was July when we visited Carbone vineyards in Melfi set under the grandeur of Mount Vulture. Sara and Luca Carbone met us outside of the Carbone cellar where we hopped in their jeep for a quick drive to the vineyards. Winemaking is in Sara and Luca’s DNA. The oldest Carbone vineyard, Piani dell’Incoronata, was planted in 1970 by their dad and uncle. The Carbone brothers produced wine until 1987 at which point business took them elsewhere. They didn’t give up the vineyards but sold grapes to wine makers. The sister and brother team took over the family vineyards in 2000 and they haven’t looked back since.
After spending 10 minutes walking and talking with Sara and Luca their enthusiasm and dedication had infected us. They believe that working in the vineyard is essential to producing a wine that expresses their personality and that of Vulture. At the foot of Vulture, aglianico is THE grape variety. Sometimes called the barolo of the south it is dark, dry and tannic with beautiful acidity often with black cherry, blackberry and chocolate aromas.
Sara and Luca’s first vintages are Stupor Mundi 2005 and Terra dei Fuochi 2005 followed by 400 Some 2006, all 100% Aglianico del Vulture. We recently opened a 400 Some 2009 and Stupor Mundi 2009. They both had lively acidity and beautiful expressive tannins. Stupor Mundi was chock full of blackberry, dark chocolate and herbs while 400 Some expressed blackberries and spice. I have no doubt that both wines will improve with age. We enjoyed 400 Some with podolico caciocavallo (an aged cheese produced using only milk from the Podolica cattle), a classic pairing, and we drank Stupor Mundi with Sunday lunch of tomato and meat sauce, pasta and meatballs. We look forward to repeating this Sunday combo in a few years time.