These notes accompany a in-depth feature on Puglia. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: Puglia, and a celebration of indigenous grapes.
ACCADEMIA DEI RACEMI
Pietraluna Negroamaro del Salento 2008
Forty percent of this wine was aged in large American oak barrels, 60% in steel. Lightly smoky, slightly rubbery touch to red fruits. The palate has a big burst of sweet fruit: thick and plummy, with the wine slightly on the warm side, giving a little bit of a furry character to the tannins. Spicy and mouth-filling stuff though. 85/100.
Sum Vino Rosso da Tavola 2006
Made from 100% Sussumaniello. Very bright, zingy colour. Nose has cherry and a herbal edge, with a little suggestion of briar. There’s a creamy richness on the palate, and a nice chewy fleshiness to the tannins. Good, bright acidity in a very honest and tasty wine. 88/100. 11 euros
Archidamo Primitivo di Manduria 2006
From red soils over limestone. 40% in large barrels for six months, 60% in steel. Again that herbal and cherry tang on the nose, but a slightly more ripe and rich character, with plenty of spice coming through. A little earthy character adds warmth. On the palate fine, sweet fruit though it has no great length, finishing warm and easy to drink. 86/100. 6 euros
Felline Primitivo di Manduria 2006
Fourteen percent alcohol (minimum for this DOC). Aged 12 months in new Alliers oak. Bright, svelte nose with a hint of coffee and smooth berry fruit. On the palate this is smooth and mouth-filling, with svelte tannins and a sophisticated if more international character. 87/100. 8 euros.
Giravolta Primitivo di Manduria 2006
From black soils and bush vines of 40-45 years of age. Thirty percent spends six months in oak. A touch of animal quality and again that cherry and herb lift, with the oak adding a little cedary character. The ripe, sweet fruit fills the mouth – lots of power here and a deep, fleshy core of fruit into a spicy finish. 88/100. 12 euros.
Sinfarosa Primitivo di Manduria Zinfandel 2006
Californian Zinfandel grafted onto Primiitivo roots. Half of the wine aged in Slavonian oak and some American. Has a tarry quality, a little bit more of a black fruit essence. The sweetness of the dark plummy fruit, edged with chocolate, and lots of fleshy, spicy, rich fruit but staying fresh. 89/100. 12.5 euros.
Dunico Primitivo di Manduria 2005
So named because it is grown in deep sandy soils at the dunes of the Adriatic coast. 15.8% alcohol. Vineyards are free-standing Arborella, 50-60 years old vines, and it spends eight months in large Slavonian oak. Quiet a dusty, lightly smoky character to this, with just a touch of something green and perhaps a little underripe (from a cooler vintage). There’s a really cedary element too. The palate has masses of spice and earthy, deep red fruit, with a big finish that betrays the high alcohol slightly, but offers a fairly profound, in-your-face Primitivo experience. 88/100. 25 euros.
Primo Amore 2004
Fifteen percent alcohol, late-harvested (end September/start October). Comes from Arborella vines of 50-55 years of age. One year in large Slavonian oak. Around 70g/l of residual sugar. Some chocolaty but also gravy browning notes, with little tea and pruney, compote notes. The palate has a big cherryish core, with a softening sweetness, low acidity and quite good length. Quite harmonious and spicily mouth-filling. 88/100.
Pinto Bianco 2008
An IGT from the odd vines that were interspersed amongst other varieties in old field blend vineyards. A touch herbal, with quite good lemony fruit and a touch of phenloc, skinny character. The palate has pretty good acidity and a bit of weight. There’s a touch of grreeness to this, maybe as an attempt to pick early and retain acidity – which they have achieved, as it finishes with a freshening tang. 86/100. 6-7 euros retail locally.
Fiano ‘Ruah’ 2008
IGT Salento, fom vineyards planted 15 years ago. Quite positive and aromatic, with a touch of honeysuckle and almond to white fruit. The palate Has a nice marriage of density and a bright, focused acidity that gives it a lovely savoury edge into the finish. There’s a nice bite of structural spice and tannin and lovely freshness. 88/100.
Fiano ‘Ruah’ 2007
A bit of honey and nice development. Holding up well with good acidity but still plenty of fruit and textural weight. 87/100.
Aruca Negroamaro Rosé 2008
100% Negroamaro, made specifically as a rosé, not as a run-off from the red. Quite a bright, pinkish cherry colour. Nice bright cherry and reducrrant fruit, leading onto a palate with good crunch to the fruit, though no great length. Balanced and easy to sip. 85/100. 6.50 euro
Aruca Negroamaro 2005
Fifteen percent or so spends six months in Hungarian oak. There’s a touch of smokiness and charcoal to the solid, chocolaty aromas. The palate has really nice fruit too – a creaminess and sweet damson jam density but a good, fresh finish with some style. 87/100. 8.5 euros.
Primitivo ‘Sharav’ 2005
All of this wine spent four months in Hungarian oak. Comes from the western part of the peninsula – “the Ioanian vineyard”. The oak influence – spicy, charry and a touch resinous – is fairly obvious even after four years. On the palate the purity of the fruit comes through very nicely, a real cherry and crunchy blackcurrant fruit, with nicely grippy, roughening tannins that add structure along with balanced acidity. 88/100. 10-11 euro
Sixty percent Negroamaro aged four months in Slavonian big barrels, 20% each of merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged four months in Alliers barriques. A firm, almost mentholly character from the Cabernet, with some dustiness and cherry fruit. The palate has beautifully sweet fruit. It has a real cassis core, with gentle spice and a broad, spice and plum depth and a little tobacco. Very nice, ripe tannins here, in an internationally styled but delicious wine. 90/100. 12-14 euros
Serra dei Santi 2008
A passito of Aleatico, the grapes dried on mats. Aged in steel only – no barrique. Harvested quite early but at around half the yields of the table wines. Very, very fresh and perfumed with floral notes and lots of fresh aromatic herbs. The palate is zingily fresh, with great verve to the bright, cherry and herb fruit and just a hint of chocolaty richness and sweetness in the finish. Lovely and unusual stuff. 89/100.
A blend of Malvasia (70%) and Chardonnay, the Chardonnay being aged on its lees. Lovely dried apricot nose with little floral touches. On the palate there is body and a creaminess to the texture, with lovely fruit definition and a really crisp, lively finish with no blowsiness. Very satisfyingly balanced, textured and crisp. 87/100.
Massaro Rosa 2008
A Negroamaro rosé with an earthy character, a little touch of briar. This is not a fruit driven style, and onto the palate a spiciness and a touch of green, herbal earthiness again, with fresh acidity and a nip of tannins. Very much a food wine, but quite rich and stylish in its distinctive style. 86/100.
An IGT Negroamaro. The colour is quite a bright cherry red, with a a great deal of leafiness, giving positively nettly notes to cherry fruit. On the palate a deal of that herbal bite again, with a broader, quite liquoricy and chicory edge. Grippy, spicy and mouth-filling in the finish. 87/100
IGT Primitivo. A slightly baked quality here, with baked plum pie and a touch of herby quality. On the palate quite creamy and rich, with a little bit of stewed prune, but the sweetness and weight of the Primitivo coming through with some style. Stays a little bit cloying for me, with a thickness and baked quality that just detracts. 86/100.
Seventy percent Negroamaro with Cabernet Sauvignon, aged eight months in Nevers and Tronçais barriques. The Cabernet is quite dominant on the nose, with a thick plum and black berry fruit and a little touch of something like black olive. The palate has a certain dustiness to the flavour profile, with plenty of fat, sweet fruit and plenty of herbs and spices coming through. But a little touch of green tannin adds a bit of earthy character that works well in the finish. A touch resinous from the oak, but good. 88/100.
Fifty percent each of Aglianico and Petit Verdot, aged 14 months in Alliers and Nevers barrels. Hugely high, camphory, almost geranium leaf nose that is very green. The palate has that stripe of something green too, the tannins very crunchy and green, and although this is an interesting experiment, I would hope the wine might show better with some time in bottle. 86/100.
Primitivo di Manduria 2007
Aged in French oak barrique. Beautifuly cedary, elegant nose, with subtle tobacco and leafy spices, and a tang of a herb-edged, sweet cherry fruit. The palate has an intense sweetness, with notes of balsamic and chocolate and a suede-like, smooth and rich tannin structure. The spices and masses of deep, toasty oak adds lots of richness. A very full and velvety wine but the heat and spice of the structure stand up to the inherent sweetness of fruit and 9 g/l of residual sugar. 91/100. 15-17 euros.
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce 2006
Passito method wine. Sold in little 50cl cute bottles. Fabulous nose, with deep balsamic richness and all sorts of complex Agen prune and peppery notes, with a touch of incense and even tarry notes. Fabulous sweet fruitness with a rich, deep, glossy blackcurrant fruit. Beautiful coffee and cherry infusion nose, with a swirling, dark pool of fruit, sweet tannin and spicy richness. 93/100. 19-21 euros.
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce 2007
Lots of pepper and cinnamon, with a touch of herbs and a less deep than the 2006, less seductive character at this stage. The palate is more linear and lean – less sweet – but the grip of the tannins and a the fine, persistence of the acidity adds more structure. Less hedonistic perhaps, but has fine balance and beautiful length. 92/100.
Corte Valesio 2008
An IGT Salento Bianco, this is a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Lightly herbaceous, with some slightly waxy, pear skin fruit character. The Chardonnay comes through more on the palate, with a fairly broad, powerful mid-palate with a bit of skinny grip, if rather alcoholic. 86/100.
Vigna Castello 2007
Castello di Serra Nova estate, this is 70% Negraomaro plus Sussunmaniello. There’s that little twist of vegetal, herby character, then quite a nice bold red fruitiness of cherry and red plum. The oak is fragrant and incense like. On the palate the oak perhaps a touch overpowering, giving a slightly resinous quality, but it is mouth-filling and rich, with a leathery intensity and plenty of spice into a pretty long finish. 88/100.
The Negroamaro is grown at the Tenuta Flamino estate near Brindisi from 70-year-old vines, then dried on mats at Castello di Serra Nova before oak ageing. Subtle, deep-set nose hinting at herbs, leather and spices, but a warm earthiness and a touch of chocolate. He palate is extremely smooth and glycerine-rich, with an intensity of raisins and Agen prunes, and plenty of spicy concentration to the tannins. 91/100. 45 – 55 euros.
The oak seems more dominant on this wine, with a slightly resinous touch and some dried cherry and prune fruit aromas. On the palate more sweetness here: seems to be both a more concentrated fruit sweetness, with a lightly dusty cherry character, and a little more residual sugar. The chocolate and fat, pruney richness of the finish builds and this finishes with real intensity and spicy length. 92/100. 45 – 55 euros.