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Basilicata: regional profile and top wines to try

Anthony Rose visits the winding streets and hilltop villages of Basilicata. Read on for his top 10 names to know plus 12 bottles worth seeking out from one of Italy's lowest-production wine regions.

In 1935, Carlo Levi was exiled by Mussolini to Aliano in Basilicata for opposing the Fascist government. His memoirs of his time there, published a decade later in 1945, were enigmatically titled Christ stopped at Eboli in reference to the local saying that Basilicata (then Lucania) had been ‘bypassed by Christianity, forsaken by morality, excluded from history, abandoned by civilisation itself,’ as Levi put it in his book.

The town of Eboli over the border in Campania was therefore as close as Christ would venture.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for 12 top Basilicata wines

Basilicata is a rural, arid region of wild beauty with lunar landscapes of canyon-like calanchi rock formations, arid dunes, lava caverns, ghost villages and sun-splashed golden beaches. The ‘arch’ of Italy’s boot, it has a short coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the southwest and a longer coastline on the Ionian Sea in the southeast.

The majority of the province’s vines are focused around Vulture at the northern end of the region, although closer to the sea good wines can also be produced in the lower altitude vineyards which experience a maritime climate. Production in Basilicata is tiny, however, compared to its neighbours, Puglia, Campania and Calabria.

Basilicata at a Glance

  • With an estimated 5,000 – 10,000 hectares under vine and a population of around half a million, Basilicata is one of Italy’s smallest wine regions
  • A rugged landscape of rolling hills and mountains; only 8% of its surface is flat.
  • One of its three peaks, the 1,326-metre high Monte Vulture, an extinct volcano north of Potenza, is home to the Aglianico del Vulture DOC
  • Aglianico del Vulture was certified as a DOC in 1971 and in 2011 became Basilicata’s only DOCG, as Superiore and Riserva, which need two and four years of ageing respectively.
  • Basilicata’s three DOCs are Matera, Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri, and Grottino di Roccanova (Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata).
  • Cool vintages: 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2016.
  • Balanced vintages: 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2020.
  • Warm to hot vintages: 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2019.
  • The communes within Vulture: Rionero, Barile, Rapolla, Ripacandida, Ginestra, Maschito, Forenza, Acerenza, Melfi, Forenza, Venosa, Lavello, Palazzo San Gervasio, Banzi, and Genzano di Lucania.

Basilicata wines: 12 to try

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