I think that the first two wines reviewed below display Puglia's terroir exceptionally well. With the negroamaro grape, I think the terroir appears in the form of simultaneous bright and dark fruit flavors. How many wines can tout such a paradoxical quality? The dark fruit makes the wine austere and masculine, but Puglia's wines are nothing if not amicable, and the bright fruit is juicy and mouthwatering. I have to guess that these qualities come from the combination of the negroamaro grape—native to Puglia for a couple thousand years or more—and Puglia's unique growing environment, which combines severe, unrelenting sun with cool sea breezes and a healthy amount of groundwater (sorry, gonna geek out for a sec: this ground water is actually sourced from a river near Naples, then channeled through one of the largest underground aqueducts in Europe, to Puglia—That's crazy terroir!). I hope you get a chance to try these cheap, expressive negroamaros for yourself.
Puglia Wine Review
As always, 50% of my ratings are based on quality and 50% on price.
Terravecchia Winery's 2008 Pámpana (100% Negroamaro)
Where to Buy: Magnolia's Corner (Sandy and NE 41st)
Short Review: Well hello darlin', nice to meechya.
I tasted this wine at a party to support EAT's Italian culinary tours, and it fully demolished the rest of the competition: My friends and I left with a case of it. The Terravecchia line of wines is produced by Alberto Longo winery in the Daunia region in northern Puglia. Pámpana is one of the best representations of Pugliese wine that I've found in Oregon. The wine is dry and has a med/full body. It is fruit forward and the acidity is balanced, making for gulpable drinking. I got aromas of raspberry and blackberry, cinnamon, vanilla, and plum jam, and I tasted blackberry and juicy dark fruit. The finish is medium but the mouthfeel is long. The tannins are soft and this wine pairs well with salmon or chicken. I've been a fan of some of Alberto Longo's wines, and others have left me less than impressed, but the winery really nails it with this one, especially when you consider the price.
Taurino Winery's 2006 Salice Salentino Riserva (80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera)
Where to Buy: Not imported to Oregon these days. Sorry.
Short Review: A mature wine that's worth every dime
I've had this wine many times, but I'm not sure if I've tried it at this age, which is, apparently, the perfect age. The 2006 will drink well for the next year but not much longer. The nose is dark fruit, fennel, and thyme, and I tasted tobacco, fennel, and cedarwood. The wine's mouthfeel was extraordinarily rich and silky—almost as though all uneven textures had been polished down. Structure was solid, and the wine could pair well with acidic dishes like tomato sauce. The tannins are soft. Medium finish.
Pinetti Notte Winery's 2010 Primitivo
Where to Buy: Fred Meyers (got mine on SE 39th and Hawthorne)
Short Review: For those who like it sweet...
If you like Layer Cake's Primitivo, which retails around $16, save ten bucks and buy Pinetti Notte's instead. This astonishingly cheap wine tastes pretty good, but it is a little on the sweet side. I got aromas of fruit gummies and red licorice laces, and I tasted dark fruit and cedarwood. The acidity was there and the tannins were soft and these qualities balanced the fruit. Very approachable, this wine is a good cheap primitivo.