In 2022, Ron Fenolio initiated a series of presentations on the wines of Italy to be given at the regular luncheons in the months of the program year that encompass five Thursdays. Each presentation includes tastings of selected wines. He began his tour of the regional wines of Italy with the islands of the Mediterranean, Sicily and Sardinia, and has moved on to the mainland, moving from south to north. This time, Ron reviewed wines of Calabria and Puglia, the “toe” and the “heel” of Italy’s famous boot. He discussed the different grapes, climate conditions, and other factors which determine the quality and taste of the wines from that region. Below are his offerings and comments.
Kudos to Ron Fenolio and Chris Gulli for a wonderful program and wine tasting! It was great and I think I speak for all in attendance when I say that we were so fortunate to have been able to have such erudite and collegial presenters, to say nothing of the sumptuous wines chosen for our enjoyment.
Learn about the wines that were featured in Wines from Sicily: Fifth-Thursday Wine Tasting Series.
Ron also authors a cooking blog entitled Vino e Cibo: Secrets of the Italian Home Cook.
|Grape Variety / Blend||Region||Producer, Brand||Vintage||Alcohol||Purchase||Price||Notes|
|Minutolo (white)||Puglia, Valle d’Itria||I Pastini |
|2021||12.5%||wine.com||26||The Minutolo grape here preserves lip-smacking acidity and low alcohol despite the baking-hot Puglian summers, flaunting a gorgeous perfume of blossoming flowers, lemon verbena, and wild sage. Fortunately for us, a small group of dedicated growers brought the variety back from the brink of extinction two decades ago;|
|Verdeca (90%), Minutolo (10%)|
|Puglia, Salento||Li Vel|
|2021||14%||Prima Vini, Dublin and Walnut Creek||$10.99||Li Veli features little-known native grape varieties of Puglia in its Askos line. Verdeca is the white entry in this line. Not much Verdeca is grown in Puglia, and almost none outside the region, so it’s exciting to see a varietal Verdeca wine like this one from Li Veli. Askos is a Greek word for a type of wine container, harkening back to the pre-Roman days when the Ancient Greeks colonized Puglia.|
|Gaglioppo–Pretty much exclusive to Calabria (Red)||Calabria, Ciro||Librandi Duca Felice|
Rosso Riserva 2019
|2019||13.0%||wine.com||$18.99||Rare find from Calabria that is the child grape of Sangiovese and sibling to Sicily’s Nerello Mascalese. Wines often deliver dusty fruit flavors. Raspberry, red current, clay soils/clay pot, leather, tobacco.|
|2018||13%||Total Wines||$15.99||Medium bodied, floral. 90 points James Suckling – “A fresh and bright red with cherry and lime aromas and flavors. Zingy acidity. This wine pairs well with lamb, and roasted or grilled vegetables.”
This varietal is very rare, was also considered endangered and nearly extinct but repropagated, now considered to be a “rediscovered” grape/wine.
|Primitivo (aka Kastelanski, Tribidag, “Zinfandel”)|
|Puglia (no DOC, purchased grapes transported and vinified at Botter in the Veneto)||Caleo Organic||2021||13.5%||Total Wines||$15.99||Fruity, with notes of plums cherry marmalade and tobacco; spicy with an aftertaste of cocoa, coffee and vanilla. This is probably Puglia’s best known varietal.|
|Negroamaro (aka Negro Amaro)|
|Puglia, Brindisi||Marchese de Borgosole||2019||13.5%||Total Wines||$12.99||James Suckling: “Aromas of figs, chilis, mocha, cloves and incense. It’s medium-bodied with chewy tannins. Crunchy and textured in the mouth with a dusty feel. Fruity with fine tannin on the finish.” This varietal is the most planted grape in Puglia and sixth most planted in Italy.|
|Appassimento–planted in Italy|
|Puglia, Brindisi||Marchese de Borgosole||2019||14.5%||Total Wines||$11.99||The late maturation gives the characteristic notes of ripe and dried fruits, such as plums and raisins. The subsequent slight oak aging gives the pleasant notes of chocolate and spices that make this wine harmonic and balanced, pleasant and mature.|
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