Discover Aglianico: an ancient grape thriving in the Barossa

Discover Aglianico: an ancient grape thriving in the Barossa

Have you experienced our award-winning Aglianico?

Whether you’re keen to expand your wine repertoire with a new and exotic varietal, or you’ve stumbled across a bottle of Aglianico and are downright curious, here is a handy guide about this stunning food wine and why you need to add it to your 2019 tasting list!

While Aglianico had ancient beginnings in Greece and then Italy more than 1,000 years ago, it is a variety that thrives in dry climates with generous amounts of sunshine.

This is exactly why it’s found its way to Purple Hands Wines in the beautiful Southern Barossa Valley in South Australia, and has become an award-winning member of our premium, boutique range.

Known as one of Italy’s best kept secrets, we planted the rustic, full-bodied variety in our Southern Barossa vineyard in 2011 amidst great anticipation, and our first vintage was bottled in 2015.

We are proud to announce that our Purple Hands Wines 2017 Barossa Valley Aglianico was awarded a gold medal at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in 2018 and recently received 95 points from Wine Showcase Magazine and 93 points from Campbell Mattinson (Winefront).


The origins of Aglianico

Pronounced Ah-Lee-An-Iko, the Aglianico varietal originated in Greece but today over 98% of the world’s plantings are noe in southern Italy, namely Basilicata and Campania. In actual fact, Aglianico has been grown in Campania for thousands of years and even graced tables during the Roman empire. 

The grape was called Ellenico (the Italian word for ‘Greek’) until the 15th century, when it acquired its current name of Aglianico. 

It is also sometimes referred to as the “Barolo of the South”, meaning it is Southern Italy’s premium grape variety.

Before phylloxera, Aglianico was one of the most widely planted varieties throughout the South of Italy. After phylloxera, the grape survived in small quantities in more or less isolated areas, principally around Rionero del Vulture in Basilicata, and also around Avellino, Benevento, Caserta and Salerno in Campania.

As we mentioned earlier, it is a grape that thrives in dry, sunny climates, which is exactly why other areas to plant Aglianico in more recent times have included California and Texas, as well as the Barossa Valley and other Australia wine regions, where just 1% of the world’s plantings exist.

Aglianico tasting notes: complex, full-bodied and intense

Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins (derived from their thick skins) and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential.

This fits beautifully with our mission here at Purple Hands Wines – to make balanced wines that can be consumed young, but also become interesting and enjoyable as they age.

Purple Hands Wines’ Aglianico is characterised by a pretty floral perfume of rose petals and Turkish delight, with lovely raspberry, blackcurrant and earthy style flavours with a “lick of liquorice” on the back end of the palate. 

As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced with the rest of the wine. The trademark colouring of the wine is a deep garnet which lightens over time.

Even when grown in warmer climates, Aglianico is capable of retaining high levels of acidity, which adds to the length and persistence of flavour on the palate.

The grape has a tendency to ripen late, with harvests as late as the end of April or even early May in our Barossa Valley vineyards. If the grape is picked too early, or with excessive yields, the grape can be aggressively tannic and have ‘green’ flavours so it is important to fully ripen the grapes.

Aglianico vines generally produce a high yield of bunches, so each year we have to conduct bunch thinning where we cut and drop bunches to ensure vine balance this allowing optimal ripeness for the remaining bunches.

Perfect food pairing with Aglianico

Because of the high acidity and soft silky tannins, Aglianico begs for rich meats with high fat content to absorb the astringency. Think thick cuts of steak or luscious lamb dishes. Or, in keeping with its Italian heritage, a rich Lasagne Bolognese is just perfect!

If you’re a vegetarian, hone in on flavours such as black bean sauce, soy sauce, tempeh or dishes that welcome roasted mushrooms or lentils.

You can also enjoy it with a carefully selected cheese platter – it welcomes pairing with Pecorino, Asiago, Grana Padano, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Provolone.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

For those intrigued by alternate varieties, and pursue wines that are quite different, yet excite your nose and liven your palate, Aglianico is the variety you should try.

“Along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, [Aglianico] is generally believed to be on of Italy’s three best wine grapes, but in my opinion it is far more…” –Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy

This quote sums up exactly why we were excited to bring Aglianico to the Barossa Valley and introduce more Australian wine lovers to this premium Italian variety.

It is also why we encourage you to sample our award-winning Purple Hands Wines 2017 Barossa Valley Aglianico and enjoy a modern Australian take on this ancient drop. [Note: We now make an After Five Wine Co. Aglianico.

Have you tried Aglianico? We’d love to know your thoughts on this premium and striking red.


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5 Star Red Rating Continues in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion

5 Star Red Rating Continues in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion

We are really excited to retain our red 5 star rating in the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion.

Red 5 star status is awarded to wineries who regularly produce wines of exemplary quality and typicity and who have 2 or more wines rated at 95 points or above and have had a 5 star rating for the previous 2 years.

It is awarded to only 8.2% of the wineries listed in the book. The After Five Wine Co. range hit the book for the first time and received rave reviews, with two rated at 96 pts and one at 95 pts with the observation that – “These ‘After Five’ wines have arrived on the marketplace in emphatic fashion.”  


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After Five Wine Co. launched

After Five Wine Co. launched

We are really excited to announce the release of 3 new single vineyard wines.

We have labelled the wines under the name After Five Wine Co. and the range consists of a Shiraz, a Grenache and a blend of Shiraz/Montepulciano/Aglianico.  The After Five Wine Co. was born to showcase vineyards that have consistently produced wines of quality and importantly also have expressed their sites and the Barossa region. We have focused on minimal winemaking intervention with the purpose of letting the wine express the site, vineyard and season.  The idea behind the name (After Five Wine Co) was a reflection on when many of our ideals, thoughts and plans began, generally after five and with a glass or two of wine, obviously it also reflects what happens in many homes, bars and restaurants every night as the evening approaches.


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Purple Hands Selected in Hot 100 Wines

On Thursday 3rd December the Adelaide Review Hot 100 Wines were announced.

Purple Hands Wines 2014 Old Vine Barossa Valley Grenache was selected in the Hot 100 Young Release Style/Joven/Nouveau With Texture category.  The Hot 100 wines seeks to find the most drinkable wines in South Australia in a range of different categories. Congratulations to The Other Wine Co. which won with a McLaren Vale Grenache – great to see Grenache getting some recognition.


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Purple Hands hosts UK wine reviewer

Purple Hands hosts UK wine reviewer

On August 8th  we were luck enough to host UK wine reviewer and writer Sarah Ahmed (the Wine Detective).

Sarah is in Australia to be an international guest judge at the Hunter Valley wine show and included a 4 day trip through S.A. to visit selected wineries with a focus on Grenache based wines. Many thanks to Sarah for selecting Purple Hands and her kind feedback on our wines.