Easier to drink the contents than pronounce the producer. 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% Merlot. With the happily confounding exception of vino Piemontese which seems to carry its alcohol with grace, anything over 14% in la Bella Italia tastes a bit prune like to this aging dissolute and a pass for something with a declared 13.50% or less. So this at the declared limit does seem crisper and fresh red fruited. Cherries, walnuts and a touch of sweeter raspberry clamped to good food loving acid and tannins make it seem like southern Tuscany without the ambitious price tag and the sometime scent of the stable. From the Italian supermarket, Conad, which seems happier hunting than trying to find good retail enoteche in Umbria. Maybe the locals buy direct?
13.50%. Diam! 12 euros.
At an irresistible 13.90 euros on the shelf of the venerable Enoteca Trimani not far from the hurly burly of Rome’s Termini Station. Central casting aromas of the Langhe in old roses, old leather chairs, bright red cherries and the basso profundo of the soil. Same in the mouthful with the texture and zing of blood orange juice and fine but stern tannin. Odd thing Nebbiolo as the all flavour seems to be from the middle to end, perhaps a back to front tadpole in shape? Once you get the calling though, the siren don’t stop singing. This one better after a few hours and not quite as bright the next day or maybe this drinker wasn’t. Nonetheless sublime bargain for the Nebb fancier.
14.50% alcohol. Cork. 13.90 euros, yes, the one and three are round the right way.
When in Rome one road leads to Matricianella and it’s mammoth wine list. A plate of tagliatelle with porcini and cicoria, incidentally another traditional dish to satisfy vegans, and something from Vietti for 20 euros on the list. Could have gone for a Barolo Cru or Brunello but blinding bargains do beckon. Just love Dolcetto with good pasta. This was foot forward, sweetly ripe, full of succulent berries and that wonderful Langhe rocky soil scent and flavour. Clean, no hint of the dreaded Dolcetto reduction and mouthwatering acidity jammed tight to fine tannins. Simple drinker, simple pleasure on a grand scale. La piccola bellezza.
14% alcohol. Cork. 20 euros on a list it takes a while to read.
92 punti but what a drink with s’ghetti.
Another recommendation from the Wine and More Enoteca in Lecce and a lovely. Really clean and perhaps fresher and less dried skinny leather than some Salento Negroamaro. Very ripe pomegranate juice concentrate, something between very ripe raspberry, cherry and plum and only medium weight. Fresh tingly acid wins over fine tannin and goodness doesn’t it make the mouth water for food. Delicioso. Not in anyway profound but the fruit just seems so well grown and even. The fact it’s organic got something to do with it?
14% alcohol but doesn’t seem it. Cork, humph. 13 euros.
A return to the great Cucina Mama Elvira in Lecce for a slap up dinner. The wine list is an amazing curation of intelligence and passion for the land of the Salento. All the work of Andrea, owner and maestro of the region’s food and wine. This was a pitch perfect example of richly fruited but acid cut Negroamaro. Lots of clean dark cherry pithy fruit, savoury dusty clay and that dry grape skin flavour and tannin so typical of the sun worn Salento. Sense of place distilled into a glass.
13% alcohol. Diam, yet again! 17 euros on the list.
After really enjoying Vallone’s Susu, perche no another? This is modern, fresh and just the right weight, no too ripe not too fresh. No rustico here. Bright red cherry runs deep and long without bombast. The effortless first touch of Andrea Pirlo and a perfectly weighted palate sends this to a plate of pasta. Not sure how something with such simple self assurance but no little depth got Tre Bicchieri. It’s not oaky or built for keeping but has lovely even ripeness and the fine acid mingles well with the finest grade sandpaper tannins. A bit of nut and dried fruit skin says Salento. Wish my football team played with such composure.
13% alcohol. Diam again! 10 euros from the treasure trove of Enoteca Wine and More in Lecce.
No matter how much you think you know Italian varieties along comes another to put your shallow understanding in its place. Andrea, the amazingly knowledgeable source of Pugliese wine wisdom and owner of the great Mama Elvira wine bar in Lecce, says Susumaniello is an old variety gaining new popularity for its relative freshness and medium weight. Other sources say it may be a cross of Sangiovese and an as yet unidentified partner. This savoury lovely bears out both views. Initially some coffee oak lifts the the odour, then sweet ripe cherries pushing into plum and a nutty savoury finish in an old leather chair. Just a bit of regional dried grape skin and some good natural acidity wound with fine tannin drag things along.
13.50% alcohol. Diam again, becoming a thing in Puglia! 11 euros.