The testimonies of Horace, who was from Venosa, and Pliny, attest that already in ancient times the propulsive and qualitative centre of Lucanian viticulture was the northern part of the region, towards Vulture: a gigantic extinct volcano that hosts the most suitable area. Around Vulture, snow-covered in winter and with vines that reach over 600 meters above sea level, towns like Melfi, Rionero and Barile are considered the real crus of the local Aglianico. Aglianico is a difficult grape, here as in Irpinia, and is nervous and lively in its youth, but in the long aging it gives extraordinary sensations for structure, elegance, subtlety and class of tannin. The volcanic soils of this area, with tufaceous and clayey-calcareous inserts, are an incredibly perfect setting for the production of an Aglianico with a unique personality, perhaps the largest and most valued red in the South.
By far the most significant DOC in Basilicata, the Aglianico del Vulture, after at least one year in the cellar or at least three, with wood, in the Superiore type (which has been recognised as DOCG), has no problems in staying in small barrels, indeed it benefits from it. The most intelligent producers, who work with a fine and mineral Aglianico, in short "by subtraction", not muscular, also opt for the recovery of the old "a capanno" plants (a sort of sapling supported by cone-shaped canes) and for the separate vinification of the crus. At the same time, the ancient cellars of the Sheshë in Barile, excavated five centuries ago by the arbëreshë, are being recovered and can still be visited today with their fascinating black-lava-stone walls.
The other areas are less significant. In the upper valley of the Agri river, wines from international grapes are mainly produced, on rows of high hills that benefit from high day/night temperature variations and soils rich in sand and clay. In the middle valley, instead, the Grottino di Roccanova DOC stands out, so called because the wines of the area (whites from local malvasia, reds from sangiovese, malvasia nera, montepulciano, cabernet sauvignon) are still refined in characteristic caves dug into the sandstone. The wines of the Matera area are still to be appreciated, from international grapes usually blended with the typical grape varieties of nearby Puglia.