Saturday Wine Gathering
We make a special visit to Puglia where, we imagine, the warm of summer comes early, meals build friends from acquaintances as the evening hums the ancient tune of hospitality from before the dawn of time.
Our stops will be to two whites and a Susumaniello from Masseria Li Veli, two Primitivo from Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera di Orfino Rosa [Fatalone] and three from Tenute Chiaromonte. All our Primitivi come from near the town of Gioia del Colle, about twenty miles south of Bari, twenty miles north of the Ionian Sea's gulf of Taranto and about fifteen miles east of the Adriatic. Our whites are from further down the heel of the boot south of Brindisi. There are those who say the cuisine from Puglia is the best in all of Italy!
We'll begin with Masseria Li Veli's 2017 Fiano [$11.99; 2/$19.99], which, while perhaps not quite as crisp and minerally uplifting as Luigi Maffini's superb Kratos Cilento Fiano from near Paestum [$23.99] - which we tasted back in the beginning of October - we're still very happy to offer Li Veli's wonderful value. Here is a recent review from the Wine Spectator: “Light-bodied and lithe, this fresh white offers a pretty mix of green melon, nectarine and fresh herb notes. Subtle finish. Drink now through 2020. 4,200 cases made. 88 points. AN”
Masseria Li Veli's alberello bush vine vineyards are laid out following the ancient Roman settonce system which is based on the hexagon, allowing equal spacing both above and below ground of all their high-density plantings with rows going in three directions. We'll show a picture of this interesting variation.
Li Veli's second offering tomorrow is their 2017 Verdeca [$17.99], an ancient Apulian varietal that had almost disappeared before producers like Li Veli made special efforts to save it. Again, here reviews the Wine Spectator: “Vibrant and juicy, this light- to medium-bodied white bursts with ripe pineapple, blood orange and floral notes. Lightly chalky on the fresh finish. Drink now through 2021. 2,500 cases made. 89 points. AN.” It will be interesting to learn if you favor one varietal over the other...
To round out our Li Veli visit, we taste their 2016 Susumaniello [$19.99], another indigenous varietal being brought back by them along with Tenute Rubino (whose Susumaniello we also carry). The soft and gentle spiciness of Li Veli's offers a slightly more generous mouth feel than the touch earthier Tenute Rubino's. As far as I know, these are two of the only three Susumanielli available on the international market. Once more, the Wine Spectator's description of Li Veli's: “A well-spiced, medium-bodied red, this is fresh and balanced, featuring chalky tannins layered with expressive flavors of plumped cherry and damson plum fruit and smoke and dried thyme. Drink now through 2021. 3,500 cases. 89 points. –AN”
Then we turn to new vintages of Fatalone's Primitivo Gioia del Colle 2016 [$18.99] and their Primitivo Riserva 2015 [$31.99]. These are the folks, you'll remember, who use “musical therapy” in their cellars as part of their elevage/allevamento/up-bringing. Their wines are also certified organic. Their 2014 Primitivo and 2009 Riserva were our vintages when their wholesaler last had them in stock. Our current vintages landed here at the beginning of November and so have had six weeks of recovery from their ocean voyage. Tomorrow, we'll see how they're doing.
Our third Apulian producer is one for which we have waited a year and a half – Tenuta Chiramonte – wines from a producer that has risen to the very pinnacle of all Southern Italian winemakers. Tomorrow, we taste Nicola Chiaromonte's “basic” Gioia del Colle Primitivo Muro Sant'Angelo 2013 [$36.99]; their award-winning, single vineyard Primitivo Contrada Barbatto 2013 [$54.99]; and their Nigredo Primitivo 2013 [$57.99], a later-harvest “tale of passion and emotion: A starry night, a pathway in the making, a search continuing; a dream, a memory?” In other words, a wine of contemplation...!
Chiaromonte's wines carry their weight effortlessly; endearing fruit with its residual hints is exquisitely balanced. Their 60-100 year old vines are organically farmed from calcareous, mineral rich terrain that has a slight top layer of red clay. The vineyards lie at about 1000 feet. The wines are aged in steel and bottled without filtering. The Primitivo Contrada Barbatto has been a Gambero Rosso Tre-Bicchieri winner for the past five years. It speaks of a unique, earthy Mediterranean/Apulian expression of dark fruits, spices, flowery hints, full and fresh, rich and harmonious.
The wager here is that, much like last year's experience with Fatalone's wines, the Chiaromonte wines will give new shape to our experience and understanding of Primitivo.
Eight wines in all will fill our afternoon, beginning at 2 pm. accompanied by cheese, salami and bread. The paid portion of our afternoon will be $6.
Thank you so much for your time and continued interest.