Posts Tagged ‘Salento’

I try Italian wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Negroamaro, Susumaniello, Refosco, and more

Just a quick post on several Italian wines I tried over the last week.  Nothing particularly moving at this point.  I do not think I’ve drunk a Taurino wine since my Michigan days.  I can report that the 2010 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento is still low priced and a solid value.   The 2011 Carpineto, Farnito, Tuscany and 2014 Antonutti, Ros di Muri, Venezie  have the best potential for development.  I suspect the Carpineto will have broad appeal next winter.  I found the 2015 Cantine Menhir Pietra, Salento so ripe I could only tolerate a small glass.

2010 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento – $18
This wine is 100% Negroamaro. Alcohol 14.5%.  An interesting nose of tar and spruce while note piercing is certainly aromatic.  The controlled, rounded flavors are primarily of red fruit yet there is a sweet floral and herbal infusion evocative of Northwest evergreen forests.  This gentle wine wraps up with almost puckering acidity.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2011 Carpineto, Farnito, Tuscany – $22
Imported by Opici Wines. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a firm, dry middle followed by a steely structure near the end.  The flavors of licorice and menthol have a slight wrapping of fat.  With air the wine fleshes out and develops more blue fruit.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2014 Antonutti, Ros di Muri, Venezie – $16
Imported by Casa Vinicola. This wine is a blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Refosco fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in barrique. Alcohol 14%.  A solid blend with flavors of red and black fruits, noticeable leather, and a spine of structure.  This could open up by the end of the year.  **(*) Now-2023.

2015 Cantine Menhir Pietra, Salento – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is a blend of Primitivo and Susumaniello. Alcohol 14%.  There are ripe, almost sweet flavors of blue fruits that mix with some attractive wet tobacco smoke.  Dark flavored and ultimately too ripe for my preference. * Now.

A Lovely Pair of Italian Wine

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick post for today.  I find delight in cracking open a bottle of wine I know nothing about only to thoroughly enjoy my glass.  These two wines are such an example and have been on my mind ever since we tried them.  I recommend you try both.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.


2006 Ghiacco Forte, Vigna i Botri, Scansano – $24
Imported by Moonlight Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 85% Morellino, 10% Ciliegiolo, and 5% Alicante sourced from 40-year-old vines at 250 meters.  Maceration last 30-60 days followed by aging for 12 months in Slovenian oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  The light+ nose bore maturing Italian aromas and some earth.  In the mouth the fruit was almost brambly, ripe at first then drier in the middle.  Tart, jammy black fruit came out along with acidity and wood box notes.  The flavors swung to tart red and cranberry in the drier finish where fine, drying tannins came out.  Nice.  *** Now-2019.


2010 Perrini, Negroamarao, Salento IGT – $14
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is 100% Negroamaro sourced from 20-year-old and 30-40 year old vineyards located on flat seaside plains and inside limestone quarries.  It was vinified in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  The light to medium strength nose was lifted with lovely aromas.  In the mouth there were moderately ripe, powdery red and black fruit.  The flavors show some concentration with black fruit, acidity, and an expansive perfumed finish.  The aftertaste becomes a touch firm as a little tannic structure comes out.  *** Now-2017.


A Common Thread: No Sulphur

I am used to coming across under-performing or flawed bottles of wine.  Most of the time these were immediately detectable by the nose alone.  At one point I believe I experienced an average of 7% flawed bottles.  However, I was confident in my palate so I routinely returned these bottles, as the folks at MacArthur Beverages may attest to.   As I drink more wines sealed with alternative closures I seem to come across less flawed wines.  But lately I have started coming across a different set of flaws which manifests itself in a similar manner regardless of varietal or region.  These wines have a good nose but in the mouth the flavors are often bright red, very dry, full of powerful tannins, and a strong yeasty/Pilsner flavor.  They are, in short, flawed and undrinkable.

Three examples from last month include the Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4 (I wrote about it earlier here), the 2010 Domaine de Gimios, Rouge Fruit, and the 2011 Natalino Del Prete, Nataly.  The common thread is that these natural wines are all made without the use of sulphur dioxide.   The yeasty/Pilsner flavor I tend to attribute towards fermentation with indigenous yeast and I do not mind it to some degree such as in the 2010 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg, Riesling Quarzit or the 2011 Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco.  But when the wine so strongly reminds me of beer and combined with the other  issues, I am completely put off.  I do not know what causes these problems. The Frank Cornelissen was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the Domaine de Gimios and Natalino Del Prete were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  These are both reputable stores so if it is a storage issue I doubt it occured at the store.

At first I thought I simply did not understand a certain style of natural wine, that they were meant to taste like that.  Now I believe I am experiencing the flaws of non-sulphured wines.   Alternative closures were created in light of the flaws attributed from cork.  If sulphur use may prevent this type of flaw then why are these flaw tolerated?  How many people try a flawed bottle of non-sulphured wine and think it is meant to be like that?  For a brief but interesting comment check out the final paragraph in Mike Steinberger’s post from one week ago.


Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru 4, Dry Rose, Etna – $26
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Produced from the free-run juice of various indigenous varietals.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Rather cloudy in the glass which is not surprising given the clumps in the bottle.  Beautifully texture, aromatic nose is very enticing.  Then in the mouth it started with pure tart, thin, dry flavors.  Very tart at first but after an hour or two the flavors were of pure, dry, grapefruit juice followed by a yeasty Pilsner finish.  Strange disconnect between the nose and mouth.  Poor.


2009 Le Petite Domaine de Gimios, Rouge Fruit, VdT – $23
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Alicante, Grenache, Carignan, Aramon, and Muscat sourced from a 1 hectare plot (which is planted with 16 different varietals).  Biodynamic and no sulphur dioxide is used.  Demeter certified.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was light to medium in strength with red fruit, cooked green veggies, and black tea.  In the mouth the wine starts with scented red flavors which were very dry then yeasty, Pilsner flavors.  There were very fine, drying tannins which stuck to the gums.  With air the yeasty, Pilsner flavor started very early on and lasted through the long aftertaste.  Poor.


2011 Azienda Agricola Biologica Natalino Del Prete, Nataly, Primitivo, Salento IGT – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Primitivo sourced from 80+ year old vines from almost 7 hectares of vineyards.  Certified organic with no use of chemicals, pesticides, and sulphur.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The medium strength nose was very lifted with aromas of red candy, perfumed, and powdery texture.  In the mouth the flavors followed the nose with tart, tangy red fruit which was dry.  The wine than became very dry with powerful tannins which coated the mouth along with some salivating acidity.  Then a yeasty, Pilsner and dark red fruit aftertaste. * Now-2018.


Two Satisfying and Affordable Wines

My favorite inexpensive wines often come from Europe.  These two wines are no exception.  The La Bastide Saint Dominique is a Grenache-lovers wine that may be drunk with abandon right now.  Rich in fruit it is appealing all by itself.  The Tenute Rubino sports good, drier fruit with a bit more structure.  While I grabbed the last bottle of the La Bastide Saint Dominique the Tenute Rubino is still available at MacArthur Beverages.  I would not hesitate to purchase by the case for there is stuffing to age over the short-term.

2009 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Grenache, Vieilles Vignes, VdP de Mediterranee – $11
Imported by Simon N’ Cellars.  This wine is 100% Grenache which was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12-18 months.  There was a dark savory quality to this wine.  The blue fruit mixes with soft inky black and blue fruit, some minerals, and ripe tannins in this gentle mouthfilling wine.  With air the fruit becomes brambly with some tartness, a good inky note, and sweet spices. This wine is easy to drink.  ** Now-2017.

2008 Tenute Rubino, Marmorelle, Salento IGT – $12
Imported by International Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia Nera sourced from 14-year-old vines in Brindisi.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel, undergoes malolactic fermentation, then is aged 2-3 months in stainless steel.  Drunk over two nights the light nose reveals black cherry and blueberry.  In the mouth the flavors begin with black cherry before a black core of fruit mixes with ripe tannins.  There is juicy and tart acidity which matches an initial tart flavor then there are touches of spice in the finish.  This is a good, solid, satisfying wine.  ** Now-2017.

The Fully Mature 2000 Taurino, Notarpanaro

Just a quick note for this evening. We have enjoyed several bottles of the 2004 Taurino, Notarpanaro throughout the last year. When I saw a bottle of the 2000 vintage in Virginia last week I could not resist giving it ago. Not knowing the vintage variations of Notarpanaro I decided to gamble since I feel the 2004 vintage has at least five more years of life left. Well, my recommendation is to save some money through purchasing the more interesting 2004. This bottle of 2000 was just past maturity and should be drunk up…ideally at a less expensive price. Available at Total Wine in Virginia.

2000 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento, Apulia – $20
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia. The nose was aromatic with leather and roast fruit. In the mouth the red fruit was tart and acidic with flavors of Tang. The fruit became leaner with air and mixed with a touch of balsam, still the wine was mouthfilling. The nose was more interesting than in the mouth but it still provided enough pleasure until empty. ** Now.

Two Apulian Wines from Tormaresca

Tormaresca is an estate located in Apulia with vineyards located at the estates of Tenuta Bocca di Lupo and Masseria Maime. It was founded in 1998 when the Antinori family purchased the two estates in Apulia. At the time land prices were affordable and the estates were judged to be good locations for growing indigenous and international varietals. Tenuta Bocca di Lupa contains 130 hectares of vineyards located in the Castel del Monte DOC which is in the center of Apulia. The vineyards are located near Vulture at an altitude of 250 meters. Masseria Maime is a 500 hectare estate located in Salento which is in the south of Apulia. Half of this estate is planted with vines. For those curious about the importer, Antinoi has joint projects throughout the world including the Clos Solare winery in Washington State. Clos Solare is a joint venture between Antinori and Chateau Ste. Michelle so it is natural that Ste. Michelle imports these wines.

The Bocca di Lupo Estate, Tormaresca, Image by Sankta84 (flickr)

Jenn and I greatly enjoyed tasting these wines as a pair. Both are drinking quite well right now with the Masseria Maime drinking at its peak and the Bocca di Lupo still several years away. While it is informative to taste both wines, if you must pick one then grab the Bocca di Lupo. You may cellar it for a few more years so that it may reach its maximum potential or drink now after an hour in the decanter. These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2004 Tormaresca, Bocca di Lupo, Aglianic0, Castel del Monte DOC – $36
Imported by Ste. Michelle Estates. This wine is 100% Aglianico which was harvested when slightly overripe. It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barriques, then was aged for 15 months in French and Hungarian oak barriques. The nose was a mixture of red fruit and apple cider with spices. In the mouth the black and red fruit was concentrated with chewy, ripe tannins which coat the inside of the lips. There were flavors of wood box, hints of salinity, iron minerality, and a dark chewy aftertaste. The tannins are a bit spicy. There is good balance between the ripe tannins, salivating acidity, and chewy aftertaste. I imagine this will develop for a few more years but is quite a pleasurable drink right now. ***(*) Now-2022.

2004 Tormaresca, Masseria Maime, Negroamaro, Salento IGT – $34
Imported by Ste. Michelle Estates. This wine is 100% Negroamaro which was harvested when slightly overripe. It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barriques, then was aged for 12 months in oak barriques. The nose revealed a touch of wood smoke and artichokes. In the mouth there was plenty of dusty, tangy, concentrated red fruit which was a little savory. The brighter and tarter fruit was supported by underlying mature flavors. Flavors of black tea developed with some roasted wood before a finish and aftertaste of fine, ripe, drying tannins and sweet, wood smoke. I thought the acidity was a bit disjointed at the end. *** Now-2017.

Pictures From Masseria Li Veli

The Masseria Liveli Winery

This morning I received images from Alessia Nebuloni of Masseria Liveli.  I have permission to post these images on my blog.

Part of the Estate

The estate has been fully renovated.

Settonce Vineyard

The vines are planted in a settonce pattern.  The hexagonal pattern maximizes soil exposure for the roots, maximized exposure to the sun, and eases air circulation.

An Old Alberello Trained Vine

The Alberello or Little Tree method of pruning keeps vines close to the ground. This method is popular in Southern Italy where there is little rain and high heat. It helps the vine conserve water.

Younger Vines

The vines are pruned to have three, two-bud spurs.


The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small containers.

Barrique Cellar

The Barrique cellar has been updated and is fully air-conditioned. There is room for approximately 400 barrels.

2007 Masseria Li Veli, Pezzo Morgana, Salice Salentino DOC Riserva, Apulia

The weighing of the harvest, G Palumbo, 1909-1932, Museo Provinciale S. Castromediano

Phylloxera first impacted French vineyards in 1863 then went on to devastate the rest of Europe. Apulia was one of the last regions to be affected. Vineyards flourished in the region as massive quantities of wine were exported.  The phylloxera arrival was catastrophic and it was not a productive wine region until after WWII.  The last several decades have seen increased attention paid to quality wines made from Negroamaro.

The Docks of Gallipoli, 1923, Collezione Aduino Sabato

Masseria Li Veli was originally founded by Marquis Antonio de Viti de Marco (1858-1943) as a model wine cellar for the South of Italy.  In 1999 the Falvo family bought the farm and set about extensive renovations.  The cellar is air-conditioned and full of the latest stainless steel fermentation tanks and French barriques.  The 33 hectares of vineyard have been restored and planted with Apulian varietals using the arberello system.

19th Century Wine Cart, Museo Prov. F. Ribezzo di Brindisi

This wine is 100% Negroamaro from vineyards located in Cellino San Marco and Contrada Morgana.  The vineyards lie at 70 meters and are composed of clay with limestone rocks.  The vines average ten years of age.  The grapes undergo temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel then are aged for 12 months in French barriques.  This is a good wine but too modern for my tastes.  I would save some money and buy the Taurino Notarpanaro instead.

2007 Li Veli, Pezzo Morgana, Salice Salentino DOC Riserva, Apulia
At first there is a light+ warm nose of plums.  On the second day the nose reveals tart, red fruits.  In the mouth there are soft flavors of dark red and blue fruit.  There are fine+ wood tannins that coat the mouth.  The enjoyable aftertaste has dark, gamey flavors.  This is an unabashedly modern wine.  ** Now-2015.

Two Wines from Cosimo Taurino and Carlo Hauner

April 22, 2011 1 comment

We occasionally go through periods of drinking southern Italian wine.  We like them but have paid little attention to the regions and producers.  This spring we will chronicle our exploration of these regions.  Of these two wines I would recommend spending the extra $3 to purchase the Carlo Hauner, Hiera.

Puglia Piana, Gerard Mercator, Duisberg 1595

Apulia (Puglia) is a long region in the south-eastern portion of Italy.  It produces a tremendous amount of wine but the majority is used for blending or distilling.  Only Sicily produces more wine.  The finest wines are produced in the Salento penninsulva which makes up the heel of the Italian boot.  Cool nighttime breezes from the Adriatic and Ionian seas contrast with the intense daytime heat.  Dr. Cosimo Taurino planted his first vineyards in 1972. The Notarpanaro name stems from a 19th century deed which titled the land “Notare Panaro.”  This wine  is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia  Nera from 20-year-old vineyards.  It is aged for 36 months.  It is  a good wine for $17 at MacArthur’s.

Sardenia and Sicily (with Aeolian islands), Girolamo Ruscelli, 1564

Sicily has an ancient vinous history with records of flourishing Greek vineyards in the 5th century BC.  The mountainous terrain, poor soil, intense heat, and low rain fall have long made it a productive wine region.  The Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago off the north coast of Sicily.  Carlo Hauner was a successful artists who first visited the Aeolian islands in 1968.  He curiosity about the local winemaking techniques and the Malvasia grape led him to move to the island of Salina.  After renovating twenty acres of vineyard he opened a new winery in the 1980s. He blended traditional Aeolian techniques with modern technology. He passed away in 1996 leaving the winery to be run by his son, Carlo Junior.  The vineyards are located at 50-100 meters in altitude and have soils that are volcanic and pumice.  The Hiera is a blend of Calabrese (Nero D’Avola), Sangiovese, and Corinto Nero.  It is aged in barriques for one year.  The Hiera is $20 and well priced at that, available at MacArthur’s.

2004 Taurino, Notarpanaro, Rosso del Salento, Puglia (Apulia)
This wine is a light to medium ruby color with cherry highlights.  It has a lighter nose of darker, smooth fruits.  In the mouth there are dark blackberry  flavors.  It was a little more rustic on the second night.  *** Now-2017.

2008 Carlo Hauner, Hiera, Sicilia
This wine has a light to medium nose of scented, gritty red berried fruit.  In the mouth there are plenty of red fruits with good, ripe tannins in a supportive nature.  There are flavors of red currant, spices, and some blue fruits.  The flavors turn towards the tart in the finish.  The aftertaste has long flavors, minerals, and a little inkiness.  A lovely wine.  *** Now-2015.