Where can we find Catglianico?

Southern Italy is the birthplace of viticulture in Italy. Brought by the Greeks during the 7th century BC, when the region was called Magna Graecia and Rome was just a small settlement on the shores of the Tiber river, the name of some of the main varieties still echoes this past, like Greco bianco and Greco nero.

After World War II, most of the southern Italian varieties were at risk due to the migration from the countryside to the city and the damage caused by the war to viticulture in the region. Most producers uprooted vineyards to plant more profitable crops and only the effort and dedication of some winemakers allowed those varietals to survive. 

The main southern Italian wine regions are:

 ✤ Campania

 ✤ Basilicata






Campania: A land of diversity

The variety of soils and landscapes in Campania allows the region to host more denominations of origin than any other in the south. The main grape varieties in this region are Greco Bianco and Fiano for whites and Aglianico for reds.

Greco di Tufo: Located north of the Fiano di Avellino DOCG and partially inside of the Partenio Mountains National Park, this small region is famous for producing one of the few white italian wines suitable for ageing. The wines must contain at least 85% of Greco bianco, present high acidity and complex aromas of green apple and stone fruit (peach, apricot). Some wine critics, like Jancis Robinson, compare this wine with Viognier.

Taurasi: This region became the first DOCG of Southern Italy in 1993. Its volcanic sandy soils protect the vines of this region from Phylloxera. This combination of soil, altitude and old vines allows the Aglianico to achieve its best potential, earning the region the nickname “The Barolo of the South”. Wines here tend to have deep colour with high acidity and tannin as well as black fruit aromas and mineral notes. It has great potential for ageing and can develop hints of forest floor in bottle.

✾ Aglianico del Taburno: This DOCG was approved in 2011. Only red and rosé wines made of at least 85% of Aglianico are allowed in this region. Vines in this regions are planted between 200 and 650 meters of altitude, at the foothills of the Taburno Camposauro mountains. The red wines presents red fruit aromas (redcurrant, raspberry) and hints of spices and have potential for ageing.

✾ Fiano di Avellino: Located east of the Partenio mountains and close to important forests, these influences generate a cooler climate that favours the production of one of the best white wines of Italy. Fiano must account for at least 85% of the wine, although it can be blended with other varieties such as Greco bianco or Coda di Volpe. The wines tend to present medium acidity, medium to full body and stone fruit flavours (peach, apricot). The best examples can be aged in bottle, developing honey aromas.

Basilicata: Aglianico at its best

This mountainous region surrounded by the sea and poorly communicated with the rest of Italy, keeps one of its best secrets: the Aglianico del Vulture D.O.C.G.

Aglianico del Vulture: This region, located in the north of Basilicata, takes its name from Mount Vulture, an extinct volcano.

Here, vineyards grow up to 900 meters above sea level. In these isolated lands, the Arbereshe people, descendants of Albanian refugees that fled their homes after the Ottoman conquest, preserved their language until today and managed to grow vines on these steep slopes. The volcanic tuff soils allows vines to access water even in the driest months. The Aglianico variety is the only one allowed in this region and, together with Taurasi, its renowned for producing the best examples of Aglianico wines of all Italy.

These wines present high acidity and tannins, deep colour, black fruit aromas (blackberry, black cherry, black plum) and have great potential for ageing.


The first vines of the Italian peninsula were planted in this region and it’s very likely that the first cats arrived here too. Undoubtedly, one of the hidden gems of southern Italy are its red wines made from the Aglianico variety, hence my name. When harvested from old vines planted on steep slopes in regions like the Vulture, an ancient volcano, they produce some of the finest and most delicious wines ever made, with an amazing black fruit concentration and an incredible potential for bottle aging.

If cats can be spot quite often in Northern Italy, it is in the south that they become a predominant presence. We adapted to live everywhere, from mountainous villages to coastal towns, always helping our beloved humans to keep pests away and give them some love and company. I’m quite a gourmet and, when nobody sees me, I sneak onto the kitchen and taste some of the delicious Italian food humans made. I do not like N’duja or other spicy dishes but I really enjoy sardines, clams and mozzarella. In exchange, I bring home from time to time a mouse and keep it carefully alive: the best part of eating mice is the hunting. However, they need more practice: you are supposed to run towards the mouse, not away from it. 

In the picture, I’m dressed like the inhabitants of a southern italian village and I’m playing a Zampogna, an instrument similar to a bagpipe typical from this region. Besides me is a Cacciocavalo cheese over a grill, it’s delicious! And behind me you can see the Volturno mountains.


These are some of my favourie products:

Puglia: Beyond Primitivo

The plains of Puglia allows the production of large volumes of grapes. This is a hot climate region, the most well known of southern Italy, and the main varieties are Negroamaro and Primitivo (known as Zinfandel in the United States).

Usually, these grapes are used for the production of high volume inexpensive wines that are fruity and easy to drink. However, in regions like Salice Salentino DOC, Ostuni DOC or Brindisi Rosso DOC, yields are more controlled and it’s possible to find some of the best wine examples of Puglia.

The main regions are: 

Salice Salentino: This Italian DOC allows the production of red, rosé and white wines. It’s located between the cities of Lecce and Brindisi, in the plains of the Salento Peninsula. South of this area we can find one of the last Greek speaking towns of Italy, known as the Grecia Salentina, a live testimony of how viticulture arrived to these lands. The red wines must be made of at least 75% Negroamaro while the white wines must contain at least 70% Chardonnay. The best red wines examples present medium tannins, medium acidity, high alcohol, full body and cooked red and black fruit flavours.

✾ Ostuni: North of Brindisi and closer to the Strait of Otranto coast, the Ostuni DOC also allows the production of red an white wines. Here the terrain is also mainly flat, with some elevation on the verge of the Murge plateau, to the west and northwest of Ostuni. The red wines must contain at least 85% of Cinsault, known locally as Ottavianello, while the whites are generally a blend of the local varieties Impigno and Francavilla. Impigno must always be at least 50% of such blend. Both reds and whites have generally light body and pale colour.

Brindisi Rosso: Located between the aforementioned D.O.C. and just west to the city of Brindisi, this appellation allows the production of red and rosé wines. The reds must have at least 70% of Negroamaro and have a deep ruby colour and high tannins. Rosé wines is also required to have 70% of Negroamaro and are generally intense in colour and fruity. 

Calabria: A wine region frozen in time

At the southernmost part of the Italian Peninsula, this mountainous region connected only with Basilicata by land has also suffered for isolation and a poor transport system.

The diversity of altitude and soils as well as the countless narrow valleys and ravines contributes to the diversity of a region where time has been frozen and local varieties could be preserved due to apathy and lack of profitability of these lands.

The most important regions are:

Ciro: This region, north of Crotone, extends from La Sila mountains to the Ionian coast. The calcaric soils and the differences of altitude and distance to the sea accounts for the style variations that can be observed. Red wines must be made of at least 95% of the local Gaglioppo grape and tend to be full bodied with high tannins and high alcohol. White wines must be made of at least 95% of Greco bianco. It’s said that the wine of this region was offered to the winners of the ancient olympics.

Greco di Bianco: This region, located at the southern tip of Calabria, in the Ionian coast, was the last shelter for Calabrian Greek, a language spoken until the 17th region in the village and still in use in nearby towns. Here, the Greco bianco grapes are partially dried to produce a dessert wine with a minimum alcohol level of 17%, deep amber colour and citrus flavours (lemon, lime).

Sicily: Between the Etna and the Mediterranean

This region, like Puglia, can also produce high yields for large volume inexpensive wines.

The main variety planted in the Island is Nero d’Avola, followed by international varieties such as Chardonnay and Syrah. However, this region is also home of smaller appellations whose lower yields and indigenous varieties have put Sicily on the map for the production of high-quality unique wines.

The most important of those regions are: 

Alcamo: This region located between Palermo and Trapani, in the northwestern part of the island, allows nowadays for the production of red and white wines, although it was originally created as a white D.O.C. The most important wines are the whites produced with the indigenous variety Catarratto, that must account for at least 60% (Alcamo Bianco) or 80% (Alcamo Bianco Classico) of the wine. Most of the wines are blends with other indigenous grape varieties such as Ansonica, Grillo or Grecanico dorato and can be made in a variety of styles.

Etna: This DOC produces wines from old, low yielding vines of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuzzo, two indigenous varieties. The high altitude and volcanic soils of this region that surrounds Mount Etna, an active volcano, are credited for producing some of the best wines of the island. The blends of these two varieties produce wines with high acidity and high tannins with intense aromas of red fruit, such as red cherries. These wines are suitable for ageing and can develop mushroom flavours in bottles.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria: The only Sicilian region that has reached DOCG status, it’s located at the southern tip of the island, east of the city of Ragusa. The wines produced here must have between 50% and 70% of Nero d’Avola and the indigenous variety Frappato must account for the rest of the blend. Some winemakers still use amphorae for ageing, a method that has been in place for millenia.

 Pantelleria: This region encompasses the small island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily. It’s a wine made 100% from the indigenous Zibbibo grape using the Passito method, resulting in one of the finest Italian sweet wines. Viticulture was introduced by the Phoenicians, who called the wine produced there “Gold of Pantelleria”.