Showing posts with label Puglia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puglia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Cooking With Aglianico

The 2021 Epicuro Aglianico was produced by the D'Aquino family. The brand is not listed on their website, so this may be a second label from the maker. I remember reading someone's opinion, years ago, that Epicuro was a good cheap wine to look for. 

The grapes came from southern Italy's Puglia region. Alcohol tips only 13% abv and my bottle cost $7 at Trader Joe's. I always use an Italian wine in my pasta sauce, and this Aglianico gave the sauce a dark richness that I had never found before. 

This wine has a medium-dark purple color in the glass. The nose is somewhat muted, but a good sniff will find some blackberry and blueberry aromas with a strong rustic sensibility. The flavors are certainly not shy about coming forward. Very dark fruit comes forth right away. A bit of oak spice makes itself known, but does not overwhelm. The tannins are firm and the acidity is refreshing. This is a full and juicy wine, with a finish that lingers awhile.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

An Italian Red From The Heel Of The Boot

The Susumaniello grape is a rarity. It is found growing only in the southern reaches of Italy, in Apulia, Puglia, the "heel of the boot" if you are looking at Italy on a map. It is a grape which is usually used for blending, but this bottling offers a full varietal version of it.

The 2021 Ruggero di Bardo Susumaniello came from Trader Joe's in a squatty bottle. As with many of the wines I have tried from that store, it is surprisingly good. Maybe I should stop being surprised after shopping at TJ's for decades. 

There is not a lot of information out there about this wine, or at least I didn't find much. It is reportedly aged in both steel tanks and oak barrels and it definitely shows the oak effect, although not to distraction. Alcohol sits at 4.5% abv and the bottle costs $12.

This wine is as dark as ink in the glass. It smells dark, too, with notes of black cherry, blackberry, clove, cinnamon, forest floor and hints of vanilla and cedar. The palate is bold and fruity, with cherry flavors hitting the tongue first. The sweet oak spice is enjoyable, not overdone. Tannins are firm and the wine has a good tannic grip. The overall feeling of sweetness is beautiful, but don’t expect a dessert wine. This is a truly enjoyable red wine at a truly affordable price. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Two Special Primitivo Wines From Puglia

Today we go back to Manduria, in Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot.  The Gambero Rosso virtual tasting event has already covered a number of Primitivo di Manduria wines, but these two are special.

Felline Primitivo di Manduria Zinfandel Sinfarosa Terra Nera 2017

Feline's Gregory Perrucci spoke during the online event about how Ridge is one of his favorite California producers of Zinfandel.  He said "now it can be told" that he visited the winery and brought back a cutting from the Geyserville vineyard.  He grafted it to one of his Primitivo di Manduria vines, and so he uses both the Italian and American names for the grape on the Sinfarosa label.

The Felline website refers to this particular grape as "Zinfandel Californiano," but it is properly identified on the label as Primitivo di Manduria.  even the label art recalls a poster from the old American west.  The label also bears the name of the production area, Terra Nera.  The Felline "hybrid" was aged for six months in French and American oak.  It carries a walloping 15% abv in alcohol and sells for less than $20.

This wine is medium-dark in the glass, and full-blown dark on the nose.  Aromas of black fruit leap out first, but the tar notes follow quickly.  It has a peppery smell to it and a healthy amount of chocolate and cigar box.  The palate is full and lush.  Blackberry notes, anise, mocha and bramble all join together with firm tannins and a lengthy finish.  I want a steak with this one, but a sausage and pasta dish would be nice, too.  You can also enjoy it by itself as it is quite sip-worthy.

Coppi Gioia del Colle Primitivo Senatore 2017

The Coppi Winery started in Puglia in 1882 and has passed through several hands over the years.  Antonio Coppi entered the cellar in the late 1960s, producing wines grown in the stony soil of the hills of the "Murgia dei Trulli."  The winery proudly declares that they are "in the cradle of the Primitivo DOC Gioia del Colle."  Coppi would go on to become a senator, with the Senatore wine named in honor of that achievement.  His daughters and son are involved in the business today.

The Coppi family still carries a chip on their shoulder about how Apulian wines have been "mistreated and snubbed" by the mainstream Italian wine industry.  It is the company's aim to restore "dignity and prestige" to the region through their wines.  In addition to Primitivo, the Coppi vineyards also hold grape varieties like Aleatico, Verdeca, Malvasia, Negroamaro, and Falanghina.

The 2017 Senatore was fermented in steel tanks, then aged for a year in Slavonian oak barrels.  Alcohol is restrained at 13.5% abv and the wine typically sells for around $25.

The wine is quite dark in the glass but is also very closed off on the nose.  There is some black plum and some tar, but it is surprisingly faint.  The palate isn't shy about showing its dark fruit with a layer of savory spice and anise over it.  The tannins are not forceful, so pairing with pasta is a cinch, or just sip it.  It is very tasty and smooth, and has a lengthy finish.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Four

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Antica Masseria Jorche Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2016

The Antica Masseria Jorche - ancient, fortified farm, dating back to the 17th century - came into the hands of Antonio and Mariella Gianfreda in 1990.  They restored - in some places, rebuilt - the abandoned structures and created a winery, restaurant, hotel and apartments.  Emanuela Gianfreda is the winemaker, and she and her sister Dalila spoke during the virtual tasting event staged by international wine guide Gambero Rosso.  They are the fifth generation of the winemaking family.

Jorche's 2016 Riserva Primitivo Di Manduria is made from Salento vines which average about 40 years old.  The aging process took 12 months, in barriques and capasuni - amphoras popular in Puglia.  The wine's alcohol level is a lofty 16% abv and the retail price is around $30.

This dark wine has a fruity nose of blackberry and plum, but there are some more savory notes as well.  Black pepper, cigar box and black olive also come through.  On the palate, licorice and plums are in the forefront of one of the fruitier flavor profiles I have tasted in Apulian Primitivos.  The 16% alcohol is not as overpowering as I imagined it would be.  The tannins are fairly forceful and the acidity is refreshing.  This wine drinks really well and will pair nicely with a marbled rib eye steak.

Cantolio Primitivo di Manduria Tema Riserva

The Cantolio collective was founded in the early 1960s and now includes more than 700 growers.  Company President Francesco Della Grottaglie is quite proud of his corner of Salento, and winemaker Salvatore Dell'Aquila loves the grapes with which he gets to work.

In the coastal area, the vines grow in sand and rock outcroppings, benefiting from their proximity to the Ionian Sea.  Inland, the soil is either red - loaded with potassium and iron - or black with humus and clay.

Tema Riserva is a Primitivo Di Manduria DOP wine which the winery says represents the marriage of the mother land and the father sea.  It was aged in both steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol is up there at 15% abv, common for the wine's of Manduria.  The retail price is about $30.

This wine has a medium-dark tint and a complex nose.  Earthiness is the overriding feel from the aroma package.  There is plum, blackberry and raspberry in there, all colored by savory minerals, tobacco, tar, leather and sweet oak spice.  The palate shows black cherry, cassis, licorice and a beautiful oak effect.  The tannins are firm without getting in the way, and pairing the wine with a meaty pasta dish springs to mind first.  The finish is of medium length and reminds me of sweet fruit, odd perhaps, for a wine that brought the savory so early.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Two

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

PaoloLeo Primitivo di Manduria Passo del Cardinale 2018

Paolo Leo's family is five generations deep into winemaking, with a sixth being groomed to step into their father's shoes.  Young winemaker Nicola Leo believes that he brings out the best of what the vineyards offer each vintage.  His comments are dotted with phrases like, "respect for nature" and "passion for noble work."

Primitivo vines, when properly pruned, will grow a secondary bunch of grapes which are taken in a "second harvest" nearly a month after the first collection.  These grapes from both harvests were fermented in steel tanks, then the wine was aged, three months in oak barriques and six months in steel.   Alcohol sits at 14% abv and the wine usually sells for $20 or less.

It is a medium dark wine with a savory nose, showing violets, licorice, forest floor and a touch of cardamom.  The palate is spicy, with black pepper and herbs joining the black berry profile.  The tannins are quite firm and the acidity is fresh.  It is a youthful wine which will pair nicely with a pork roast.

Agricola Pliniana Primitivo di Manduria Juvenis

Agricola Pliniana is a collective of grape growers, farmers who provide the Primitivo di Manduria grapes that went into Juvenis.  A winery rep said on a recent virtual tasting that it is the oak treatment sets them apart.  The alcohol content is 14% abv and the retail price is around $11, a very nice value.

This wine is medium-dark with a ruby hue.  The nose is subtle, but shows off blackberry and raspberry aromas along with notes of black olive, cigars and spices.  The palate is nice and fruity with a minty essence to go with the oak effect.  Acidity is fresh, even youthful, and the tannins are medium firm.  I liked it with my rib eye steak, but it also sat well with crackers and cheddar/pimento cheese.  

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Primitivo di Manduria - Part One

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - or, Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Terracalò Primitivo di Manduria 816  2019

The Terracalò 816 wine was made from Primitivo di Manduria grapes which were left drying on the vine for a short time before being harvested.  Once vinified, the wine was aged in a combination of French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks.  The wine then aged further in the bottle for five months.  

Owner Alberto Calò spoke on a recent Zoom visit for wine writers, and he called 816 rustic and powerful.  I doubt that I can improve on that description, but I will try.  I didn't catch any explanation for why the bottle seemed to weigh 816 pounds.  It was still heavy when empty.  Alcohol chimes in at 15.5% abv and it retails for about $30.

This wine is medium-dark in the glass and initially smells like eucalyptus.  There is also some black currant and black pepper in the mix, but the smoky/minty aspect of the nose is inescapable.  The palate is dark and delicious - blackberry and licorice flavors join with elements which are more earthy than spicy.  There is a sweetness that comes through as well - there's a lot going on here.  The tannins are firm enough for a meat sauce dish and the finish is lengthy.  

Masseria Cicella Primitivo di Manduria Pepe Nero

A masseria, on Italy's Apulian peninsula, is a fortified farmhouse.  The style dates back to the 16th century, when there was a need for an estate to have a fortress to protect its inhabitants.  Nowadays, a masseria is more likely to be luxury accommodations… or a winery.

Cicella Owners Michele and Cosimo Schifone are continuing a family tradition in the vineyards.  Michela spoke to the viewers on the virtual tour.  

The 2018 Pepe Nero was named for the "Pepe" district in the area.  The wine sees some stainless steel aging, plus some time in the bottle - no oak aging was reported.  It is classified as a Primitivo di Manduria DOP wine.  Alcohol sits at a lofty 16% abv and it sells in the $20 range.

This is a dark wine, in color, aroma and taste.  The nose is extremely savory, with tar paving the way for anise, blackberry and currant.  The freshness is amazing, with a lively acidity and firm tannins.  Pair it with game if you've got it, Bolognese if you don't.  It's actually so good you may not even think to have food with it. 

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Mandurian Candidate - Primitivo

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia, the heel of Italy's "boot." The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria. In the US, particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel. In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Mottura Vini Primitivo di Manduria Stilio 2019

This wine was made from grapes that were partially dried, reducing the water content by a quarter or so and leaving a much more concentrated flavor. Winemaker Teodosio D'Apolito works the magic with the fruit from the Mottura family vineyards. Aging took place over six months in French oak barrels, with another three months in the bottle. Alcohol hits 14.5% abv

This medium-dark wine has a nose of smoke, earth and pepper, on top of brambly red fruit. The palate is savory and supple, with red currant, coffee notes and a raspberry tartness. There is also a mocha sense which comes through after a bit of time in the glass. The finish is quite lengthy, and quite a joy to savor.  

Tenuta Giustini Primitivo di Manduria Acinorè

The vineyards of 50-year-old bush vines were passed down through generations, and in 2006 the Giustini family started making wine from their grapes.  That's an extremely short duration, especially by European standards, but their decision to make wine has shown to be a good one.  The winemaking is done by Giuseppe and Salvatore Papadopoli.  Aging happened over six months time in small French oak barrels with another couple of months in the bottle.  Alcohol is quite high, normal for the wines of the region, at 15% abv.  

This wine's nose is a perfumed dream, all dark red fruit with a gorgeous layer of spice and herbs. After being open for awhile, smoke really takes over. The palate brings black cherry to the forefront on a wave of sage and a refreshing acidity. Pair it with some meatballs, now.  

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Masterclass - Part Three

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  The event was called the Tre Bicchieri Web Show, which featured twelve different Italian wines from various producers.  My shipment was delayed several times - it came from Italy, after all - so I didn't get to take part, but the box finally arrived and I was able to taste the wines inside.

The Tre Bicchieri Web Show was presented by Gambero Rosso, a Rome-based Italian wine and food magazine that was founded in 1986.  It was their first-ever Master Class, which indicates that there are more planned.

The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery's representative.  This is the final of three articles on Now And Zin Wine which feature the wines that were tasted.  

Tenuta Monteti Caburnio 2015 

The Baratta family owns Tuscany's Tenuta Monteti in Capalbio, in the southern part of Maremma, very close to the sea.  The winery was founded in 1998 and it deals exclusively with international varieties like Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Alicante-Bouschet.  All the Monteti wines are aged in small wood barrels. 

The 2015 Caburnio was made from 50% estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Alicante Bouschet.  The individual grapes were vinified and aged separately, then blended, then aged a year in the bottle.

Ruggeri says the area is in the wildest part of Tuscany, where the forests are populated mostly by wild animals.  The region, he says, is too warm for Sangiovese or white wine grapes, but great for the Bordeaux varieties.  Caburnio has alcohol at 14% abv and a retail price of $21.

This wine is dark enough, that's for sure.  It is a blend of Cab, Merlot and Alicante Bouschet.  No light gets through it when I hold it to the light.  It smells dark, too.  Cassis and tar fight for first place, while blackberry and oak spice aromas jostle from behind.  The palate is stately, with a muscular elegance structured by firm tannins, flinty minerals and a lively acidity.  Bring on the steaks, as big as you like.

Coppi Gioia del Colle Primitivo Senatore 2015

Now we come to Puglia - the heel of the boot, the land of Primitivo.  The winery which is now Cantine Coppi was founded in 1882 and taken over by the Coppi family in 1976.  It sits between Turi and Gioia del Colle, where the vineyards feature. traditional varieties like Primitivo, Aleatico, Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera, Malvasia Bianca, Falanghina and Verdeca.  On the label, you'll see an artistic representation of an elevation map of the property.

The 2015 Coppi Senatore was named after Senator Antonio Michele Coppi, who founded the company and makes the wine.  It was made completely from Primitivo grapes which were grown on their chalky, clay hillsides.  The de-stemmed fruit was crushed and put into fermenters before being transferred to steel tanks after separating the juice from the skins.  Aging took place in barrels of Slavonian oak for about a year.  Alcohol hits only 13.5% abv and the price is $30.

This Primitivo shows a medium-dark tint in the glass and a nose that is all fruit, all the time.  Cherry aromas are joined by notes of plum and cassis, with just a hint of oak.  After it sits for a bit, a whiff of smoke gathers at the top of the glass.  The palate shows a lot of earthiness and a chalky quality, which we can chalk up to minerality.  There is a lengthy finish that turns slightly tart on the fade.  I would love to have this wine with some nice Italian sausages and pasta, or a meatball sub. 

Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino 2012 

Còlpetrone is in Montefalco, right in the middle of Umbria, which is right in the middle of Italy.  Under the umbrella of Tenute del Cerro, they are known for producing wines of note from the ancient Sagrantino grape and the white Grechetto.  The winery was founded in 1995 in the hilly region of clay loam soil.  

The 2012 Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino is a full varietal wine, 100% Sagrantino, which was racked into French oak barrels after fermentation for a full malolactic fermentation.  It was aged in the wood for a year and another six months in the bottle.  The winery rep noted the big spiciness in the wine, adding that it is unusual to think of Sagrantino as elegant, but that this one earns the description.  Ruggeri said, it is "not showing off, the wine speaks in a low voice."  One of the participants commented that it is like meat in a glass.  Alcohol sits at 14% abv and the list price is $30.

This 2012 wine is extremely dark in the glass - inky - and bears a nose of beautiful blackberry and black plum.  There is a savory ride-along for good measure.  The sip reveals a wine with a tingling acidity and very firm tannins - eight years old and it still has plenty of fight left in it.  Bring on the rib eye, bring on the porterhouse… this wine will tame all of them.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli 2015 

The Castagnedi brothers' estate extends along a ridge in Veneto that separates the Mezzane and Marcellise valleys.  They also have vineyards to the east, towards the Illasi valley.  Tenuta Sant’Antonio was represented on the virtual event by Armando Castagnedi, who said the property's marly limestone soil is so deprived of nutrients that it is white.  Accordingly, the vines have to work to stretch their roots deep to find the richer dirt.  

The 2015 Amarone della Valpolicella was made from a mix of Italian grape varieties: 70% Corvina and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta.  The grapes were dried for three months for raisining before being pressed late in the year.  The wine was vinified in new 500-litre French oak casks.  Afterward, the aging process took place in new casks for three years.  Tasters mentioned barbecue notes, cinnamon and fruits.  The alcohol content is 16% abv and the retail price is $73.

This wine speaks loudly through its minerals, but does not need to shout.  The dark liquid gives off aromas of meat, fine cigars, dried fruit and a slight raisiny note.  It is a complete joy to smell, let alone to drink.  The palate is silky smooth, with tannins on the back end.  Dark fruit dominates the flavor profile, but there is a hefty chunk of savory minerality that elbows through - ever so elegantly.  Pair it with pasta, marinara, Bolognese, or just sip it and make dinner wait.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Cantele Negroamaro 2010

Cantele Negroamaro is an Italian wine from the Puglia region with an I.G.T. Salento classification.  It is produced in the heel of the Italian boot, Salento, in the province of Leece, in a town called Guagnano.  It’s 100% Negroamaro, a grape known for a bitter quality in the taste.  I hear that amaro is Italian for bitter, but the grape’s name is more likely a combination of two words meaning black.  More Negroamaro grapes are grown in Puglia than anywhere else.

The 2010 Cantele Negroamaro was ordered at Cube in Los Angeles, where it cost $10 by the glass.  Denise and I love to get a cheese and charcuterie plate with a nice Italian wine.  The wine list is loaded with good Italian selections at Cube.  We had four cheeses - Camembert, vintage cheddar, benedictine and bleu - with prosciutto, sopressata and salumi mole also on the plate.

The dark red wine is aged in stainless steel, so the freshness of the fruit is not cut by oak.  Aromas of blackberry and black cherry fly unfettered from the glass.  A big, dark and fruity palate shows plums, blackberries and a nice earthy element that fits perfectly.

The unoaked quality of this wine is so impressive - I wish more red wines in the US were made that way. The freshness and the pairing with the food are heightened in the absence of oak treatment.

Whenever I have Italian wine with food, I am always struck by how well the two go together.  It was the same at this meal, with the wine bringing out highlights in the meats and cheeses.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Cantele Primitivo

At the Las Vegas Brio Tuscan Grille, I felt like a Zinfandel, but wanted to drink Italian.  That’s an easy situation to deal with when there is a Primitivo on the list.

Primitivo and Zinfandel were thought to be the same grape with different names, until DNA analysis showed that, while very similar, they are different grapes.

The Cantele Primitivo is a 100% varietal wine, I.G.T. Salento, which is in Puglia, the heel of the Italian “boot.”  It costs $7.95 by the glass at the restaurant.

Cantele Primitivo is colored quite darkly, and has an intense nose of blackberry and spice.  An earthy aroma has a little spearmint mixed in.  On the palate, flavors of blackberry dominate, and the tannins are very gentle.  Sipping it alone was a joy, and it paired with my Bolognese sauce perfectly.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Whole Foods Wine: Summer Twitter Tasting #1

The folks at Whole Foods Market have a popular series of Twitter Tasting events designed to show off the wines offered in their chain of groceries.  The Whole Foods wine buyers and some local stores take part, but mostly the gatherings consist of a bunch of social media addicts who love wine - good people like you and me.

Their Twitter Tastings about their line of Spanish wines were quite enjoyable, and just last week the same venue was used to expose Whole Foods’ wines of summer.  They have a top ten list of summer favorites, and three of the wines were the topic of the May 31, 2012 event.  Another trio will be sipped and discussed on July 12, 2012 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CT.  If you want to take part, pick up the wines and log on at that time.  Use the hashtag #WFMwine.  We’ll be waiting for you.

There was a lot of very satisfied tweeting about the three wines tasted for the most recent event.  A lot of tweeters found all three to be of high quality at a reasonable price.

Mionetto Prosecco is made from organically-grown Glera grapes, which were known as Prosecco until a few years ago.  The name of the grape was changed to help protect the name of the Prosecco D.O.C.  The sparkling wine has only an 11% alcohol content and less than 1% residual sugar.  The winery advises serving it refrigerator-cold, which is a lot colder than I like to serve wine.  They recommend Mionetto Prosecco as a base for Bellinis and other sparkling wine cocktails.

I found the nose a little hard to reach - that happens to me a lot with very cold wine - but minerals and lemon lime did come through for me.  On the palate, the toasty aspect of the fruit was more pronounced than I had anticipated.  It wasn’t as sweet as I had thought it might be, either.  Apples and citrus are in front, with a gentle earthiness riding over the sweetness of the fruit.  Minerals abound amid a wonderful acidity.  The medium finish really holds that minerality.  On Twitter, @WineHarlots liked it a lot.  I know that @WineHarlots tend to love that which sparkles, they also have a discerning palate I can trust.

Pratsch Grüner Veltliner 2011 is another organic wine.  The Pratsch winery is in Austria, northeast of Vienna.  This wine also presents an easy-drinking abv number of 12%.  On the Austrian scale of wine quality it is Qualitätswein.  The Austrian and German quality scale is as challenging a topic as the Italian D.O.C. system, so I won’t pretend to be an authority on it.  As I understand, Qualitätswein means the grapes used in the wine were harvested somewhat overripe.  This could result in a late-harvest type of sweetness, but in this case it does not.

The Pratsch Gruner is very pale and has a nose of lemons and wet rocks.  On the palate it’s very smooth - almost too smooth.  I would like to have a little more acidity, but the smells and flavors are great.  Green apples and minerals are most notable, and the minerals are all over the finish.  Chill this wine for a summer sipper.

On Twitter, @SomeGrapes, @DeniseFraser, @joewinetraveler and others commented on how nice they found the acidity, directly contradicting my impression.  @WineFoodTravel pointed out there’s a hint of cucumber, which I had not noticed until it was pointed out.

Tormaresca Neprica 2010 is a wine from Italy’s I.G.T. Puglia region.  The grapes used are alluded to in the wine’s name:  NEgroamaro, PRImitivo and CAbernet Sauvignon.  The red blend is vinified and aged completely in stainless steel, with full malolactic fermentation.  I always love tasting a red wine produced without oak - the aromas and flavors are always so fresh and enticing.  In this wine, malolactic fermentation imparts a full-mouthed creaminess.

It’s medium-dark in the glass and has an amazing nose - big, huge black cherry, raspberry and currant notes are all wrapped in an earthy hint of allspice.  The palate is lean and fruity, showing very dark raspberry and cherry flavors, but so clean.  The nice acidity level and elegant tannins work together to make a mouth-watering quaff that is a joy to drink.  And in case you think summer wines have to be white or pink, this shows otherwise.  Neprica takes a chill quite well.

On Twitter, @sf_valerie thought the Tormaresca Neprica was like an Orin Swift Chianti, while @melanie0 was happy to find a chillable red for the hot weather ahead.

We hope to see your Twitter handle in the timeline in July!

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Monday, August 9, 2010


Matane at Pane E Vino

A night out with a couple of friends can hardly go wrong, but the right place for the meeting can boost an already enjoyable event to a higher plane.  Jones and Maggie met Denise and me for dinner at Pane E Vino, on Beverly in Los Angeles.  We've known Jones forever, but Maggie is a recent addition to our list of friends - and a welcome one.

We recently rediscovered Pane E Vino and it has quickly become one of our "go-to" Italian eateries.  Great food and service are abetted by a wine list that has yet to let me down.
Jones is always quick to defer to my judgment on wine selection.  It's one of the reasons I like him so much.  Should I tell him that when he follows my lead, it's usually for a wine I've never tried before?  He liked this Primitivo just fine, so I think we'll wait on that revelation a while longer.  By the way, in the photo that is his fish being fileted in the background.
The Matané Primitivo is grown and produced in Puglia, the "heel of the boot" on Italy's map. It's an IGT wine, and consists of 100% Primitivo grapes.  A collaborative effort from the Empson family and winemaker Filippo Baccalaro,  this Italian red was a nice find and paired very well with a simple rigatoni and light tomato sauce dish.
The Matané shows a medium-tinted red with some purple tones in the mix.  The only disappointment is a somewhat faint nose.  What is there, is laden with cherry and smells very fresh, though.  On the palate, there are lots of spices clamoring for attention among full and fruity cherry and raspberry notes.  A good bit of earthiness is also present.  A slightly smoky finish tops off the fruit very nicely.  The wine feels about medium-full in the mouth, has very nice tannins and is quite smooth. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Valle dell'Asso Galtina 2006

Sometimes the label on a bottle of wine doesn't offer much more than a blurb designed to sell the product.  The sticker on this rosso, though, is a wealth of information.  Valle dell'Asso is an Italian wine from Galatina, in the Puglia region - the heel of the boot - this is 85% Negramaro and 15% Montepulciano.  It's a red wine I purchased a couple of years ago for about $17 at Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale.  The importer is Tesori Wines of San Francisco. The alcohol level is only 13% abv.
This dark wine has black cherry, licorice and clove on the nose, and it's a dank and musty aroma.  I mean that in the best possible way.  I asked Denise for her opinion on the nose, and she said "It's meaty."  I concur.
The word for the taste is "Wow."  There's a burst of fruit - plums and figs - and a spicy quality that is both peppery and sweet.  There's some mushroom in there, too.  Despite the darkness that pops up at every turn, it's a very bright tasting red that's quite showy from the start.  It definitely makes an impression.  A rather lasting one, too, as the finish keeps on going and going.  It's a well-balanced and sturdy wine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Doppio Passo Primitivo Salento 2007

All too often, I think of Italian red wines as lightweight party favors.  Tasty, maybe even interesting, but ultimately with not enough guts to handle anything tougher than a slice of lasagna.  I know, I know, that's a completely unjustified attitude.  But it's just a knee-jerk reaction.  I regularly buy Italian reds because I know how delicious they can be.  And I know that some of them have the stuff to fit in even on tables that aren't covered by red and white checkered cloths.

Doppio Passo Primitivo is such a wine.  This Primitivo is very dark – one can barely see through it when it's held up to the light.  The nose of black cherry or cherry cola also shows a lot of the earth.  The mouthfeel is medium-full and the palate is alive with a very rich and earthy taste – currants and cherries mostly.  It strikes me as the dark side of Zinfandel.  Not too surprising since Zinfandel and Primitivo grapes are international cousins of a sort.  The best part is there's no need for decanting.  This wine is as smooth as silk right out of the bottle!

Doppio Passo Primitivo Salento 2007 

Varietal:  100% Primitivo
Appelation:  Italy > Puglia > Salento

Vintage:  2007 
Alcohol Level:  13.5%
Price:  $18
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine.