Wintertime in Puglia is a quiet time for wine tasting. It’s down season. The peeps in the export departments hit the road and travel around the world, and the winemakers contemplate the wines they’re working one. The enologists---having supervised and completed the harvest---take a respite while their fields are pruned. In my ongoing attempt to apprehend the Puglia Wine Tasting, I decided to see what Santa Barbara Winery is up to.
Located in San Pietro Vernotico, the winery surprised me. Why? Because it produces a very good Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon is an international grape and uncommon in this region. Cantina Santa Barbara’s 2006 “Ursa Majore” bianco was great, with a nose of pineapple, flavors of mandarin, and a medium body. (10 euro)
But the real reason I visited the winery (besides getting out in the spring air) was Susumaniello (I know it’s a mouthful). Susumaniello is a native grape of Puglia that has been kept alive by Tenute Rubino and Cantina Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara makes a red called Sumanero that is 60% Susu (as I like to call her after two glasses or so) 20% Negroamaro, and 20% Malvasia Nera. All you barbecue freaks pay attention, this wine has the tang and the spice. A very unique offering, it is complex and concentrated. A bomb of chocolate, cigar tobacco, tang of lime, and red cayenne pepper. It might be a little too wild for some palates, but I really liked it. (8 euro).