While we spend a lot of our time here at Xtrawine taking a look at the winemakers that have been in the industry for hundreds of years, celebrating their history and the wonderful drinks that they create in the process, it is also important to cast an eye towards companies that are just starting to develop their reputations.
This brings us to Basilisco. While they may not have the reputation that some of the more historically significant wine companies in the country have, this doesn’t detract from the fact that the company is more than capable of creating some absolutely superb wines.
Here we will take a look at the history of the company, including an examination of its founding, but reviewing one of the best wines to be produced by this new and exciting winemaker.
While Basilisco itself is a fairly new endeavour, at least as we know it in its current form, the winery can trace its roots back for centuries. Located in Via della Cantine, which is a beautiful building that was created as a noble palace in the 16th century, the winemaker is stepped in history despite the fact that they have only been producing wine for a short time.
The building where the winery is housed is an extremely interesting example, having been chosen by the famed Italian director Pierpaolo Pasolini as a location for his movie ‘Il Vangelo secondo Matteo’ thanks to the rather fascinating caves that now house the storage areas of the winery and the places where vinification takes place.
These tunnels and caves were no natural occurrence however, as they came to be after several groups of Albanian refugees fled their homeland in an effort to escape Turkish pressure, settling in some areas of Southern Italy in the process. One such area became known as Barile and served as the foundation for the stunning network of caves that currently exists underneath the winery.
Dug out by those Albanian colonists as a form of shelter in lieu of proper housing, these north-facing caves twist and turn underneath the village and offer one of the most unique settings for an Italian wine story in the world. Keep to a fairly constant temperature of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius, the caves are perfect for use as a storage area, which is why they are now used by Basilisco for the preservation of oil and the storing of the wines that the company makes.
This is a practice that existed long before the Basilisco company actually came to be, with local winemakers all making use of this network of caves for the same purpose. As such, the process that is now used by Basilisco is sometimes referred to as taking place inside the “silent meander of the volcano.”
While all of this ancient history is most certainly interesting, it only serves to help us understand the origins of the buildings and structures that Basilisco uses to create its wines. As for the company itself, its story can be traced back to far more recent times.
In fact, the winery as we have come to know it began in the early 1990s, which makes the company something of a baby in terms of the Italian wine industry. The company was founded with the dual aim of getting the absolute best out of its vineyards and its winemaking process, thus quickly gaining a reputation amongst domestic producers in Southern Italy that would serve as a foundation for later growth in the industry.
The company continued in this fashion for a number of years, until 2011 when Feudi di San Gregorio, which is one of the leading wineries in Southern Italy and had been present in the region for a number of years, made the decision to start exploring the stone caves hat Basilisco calls home to its wines.
This led to a revamping of the historical context of those ancient caves and a reclaiming if the history that makes Basilisco so interesting. Feudi di San Gregorio eventually choose to purchase Basilisco in order to take advantage of this most unique of areas, giving birth to a place of true natural beauty in the heart of the Aglianico del Vulture production region, in addition to offering Basilisco everything that it needed in order to continue its expansion and take advantage of the many positives that their unique home offers to them.
The company is now managed by Viviana Malafarina, who many claim is the true heart and soul of Basilisco. Without her, the company would struggle to expand at the rate that it currently does and she is responsible for all aspects of the winery and production of the drinks. Working alongside Pierpaolo Sirch, who is responsible for the company’s vineyards, they have created a number of wonderful vintages, including the Basilisco Aglianico del Vulture Teodosio 2011.
Grown on the slopes of the ominously named Mount Vulture and made in the famous caves that were previously mentioned in this piece, Basilisco Aglianico del Vulture Teodosio 2011 is a wine that far outstrips the fairly humble price tag that has been assigned to it and is quickly gaining a reputation for being one of the best wines to ever emerge from the region.
The wine features a stunning, deep ruby red colouring that is sure to catch the eye and draw the viewer in, tantalising you with its wonderful colour and tempting you to bring it to the nose. Once you do, you will find notes of red fruits and flowers, with the slightest hints of a more complex flavour to come when you take your first sips.
Upon drinking, you will feel these notes return in full force, complemented by the natural mineral essence that can only be provided by volcanic land. Featuring good persistence and a balanced, full body, this is a wine that deserves a place at practically any diner table, but it goes particularly well with a nice, rich cut of red meat.