by Paullette Gaudet
Italy's Basilicata region is remote and virtually landlocked, but its volcanic soil--courtesy of extinct Mount Vulture--has provided it with one iconic wine (Aglianico del Vulture) and three DOCs. Settled by the Greeks in the 6th century B.C., it is believed they brought the Aglianico grape to the region and promptly began making wine. Following a historic period of strife, the region's economic prospects began to improve after World War II. In 1971, Anglianico del Vulture was given a DOC designation, and two other of the area's wines have been added to the DOC roster since. While red wines dominate the region's production, several white varieties have recently distinguished themselves. This month, we present Basilium Terre de Portali Greco Fiano 2014, a crisp, fruit-laced white that pairs perfectly with cheese and melon.
The Basilicata region may be austere, sparsely populated, and hard to reach, but the cities of Matera and Maratea make the area an off-the-beaten-path tourist destination. Matera features districts of cave-dwellings, which housed the very poor until they were deserted in the 1950's. Many of these caves have been renovated into hotels. Maratea is a picturesque hill village offering views of the Gulf of Policastro and several historic churches. Greek ruins abound for exploration, while Il Redentore (a 22-meter-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer) overlooks the city. Well worth the effort, the Basilicata region rewards the adventurous traveler with a one-of-a-kind experience of Italy, much like the Aglianico grape provides a world-class variety of wines.