Aglianico (pronounced “ahl-YAH-nee-koe”) is not a common grape varietal in California. In fact, according to the USDA, only 58 acres of fruit bearing Aglianico vines were standing in California in 2015. Two of those acres can be found at Pear Valley’s Union Road vineyard, where the vines were planted in 2007 with the first vintage harvested in 2010.

The 2011 vintage is the current release. With bold flavors, good tannins and high acidity, the varietal appreciates time in the bottle. Aging beautifully, this Pear Valley wine displays a deep crimson color and offers impressive aromatics of cracked pepper, sweet plum, violets and licorice. Robust flavors of dark cherry, plum and pepper linger in the mouth.

Aglianico is a varietal with a long history and a promising future. According to a Wine Enthusiast article published by Monica Larner, the grape was “Cultivated by the Phoenicians, exported by the Greeks, consumed by the Romans, protected by popes and coveted as a blending agent during the phylloxera plague, “Aglianico is probably the grape with the longest consumer history of all,” says Denis Dubourdieu, oenology professor at the University of Bordeaux.”

Regardless of the origin, clearly the grape has thrived in the Southern regions of Italy. Given the bold flavors and high acidity, this is a wine that pairs well with tomato-based sauces and pasta. Although it stands up well to hearty meat dishes, one of the most classic pairings is with Pasta Puttanesca, a classic Southern Italian dish made with anchovies, tomatoes, olives, capers and garlic.