The Puglia Wine Review, September 1, 2011

In this month of The Puglia Wine Review, I’ll focus on wines that feature two native grapes rarely grown outside of Puglia: Negroamaro and Nero di Troia. Negroamaro is the most planted grape in Puglia, and many winemakers believe that it is the grape that best expresses the region’s terroir (I almost wrote unique terroir; that’d be rather redundant, wouldn’t it?). Many writers screw up the meaning of the word Negroamaro. They think that the roots are negro and amaro, and say that Negroamaro means "black, bitter." However, the languages used in Puglia are rooted in both Latin and Greek, and the roots of the word Negroamaro are more likely negro, a Latin root, and maru, a Greek root that also means black. Negroamaro is the blackest of the black grape. Hear the perspective from local winemakers here.

As always, I purchased these wines at local wine shops in Portland, OR.

Tormaresca's 2008 "Neprica" (40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Rating: 7
Price: $9.79
Where to Buy: Fred Meyer
Short Review: Good wine for under $10

This interesting mix of grapes creates a dark wine that can be drunk with food or on its own. Let it breathe for 45 minutes. The nose has cooked blueberries/blackberries and vanilla ice cream, but it's not sweet. The mouth matches the nose, a little ice cream and dark fruit. Full bodied, with a medium finish, it was nicely juicy and silky. The finish was a little tart at first, but the longer I let the wine breathe the more it went away. This is an everyday wine to have with a nice pasta dish. The tannins will stand up to acidic dishes.

Antica Enotria's 2007 Nero di Troia IGT
Rating: 8.5
Price: $15.99
Where to Buy: Liner & Elsen
Short Review: Austere! Bourgeois! Awesome!

The Nero di Troia grape is very unique, and I can always expect 100% Nero di Troia wine to have serious structure. Accordingly, this wine should not be drunk on its own, but should be paired with food. I paired mine with a New York Steak over the grill. Surprisingly, this is an Old World style wine coming from a region known for making New World style wines. This wine needs to breathe at least one hour. The nose was cigar box, tobacco, and a little barnyard. It reminded me of a particular bike ride I took through the Pugliese countryside between San Donaci and Brindisi. Kristin and I passed many abandoned masserie (aka fortified farmhouses or mansions), and there were many long-tailed sheep and tractors. The air was crisp... In the mouth, the wine was very dry, silky, and smooth, with leather, choke cherry, and lots of pepper. It had a long finish.


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