The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

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Page 39 of 134

38  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2014 T he third edition of the Radici del Sud (Southern Roots) wine competition proved to be fertile ground for blind tasting some of Southern Italy's most esoteric native varieties and for sizing up the quality and style evolution that's taking place in the "business part" of Italy's boot. Held at the Masseria Caselli in Brindisi, the competi- tion included several days of one-on-one meetings with producers from Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily that prepared members of the national and interna- tional juries for two days of rigorous blind evaluation and points awards. Our nine-person panel was led by Danish journal- ist and Italian wine expert Ole Udsen, whose intimate knowledge of the terroir both inspired and supported the panel's work, which encompassed 350 wines and a dozen different varieties. Large flights spanning four vintages (2010–2013) of Negromaro and Primitivo turned a spotlight on these two varieties. Despite expectations, Primitivo from Puglia, Manduria, Salento and Gioia del Colle outshone Negromaro, a variety that has been dubbed Southern Italy's next "important" red wine, from the same regions. Given the similarities between the two varieties, comparisons between California Zinfandel, now known to be the genetic offspring of Tribidrag from Croatia, and Primitivo were unavoidable. But marked differences in terroir created marked differences in the wines. The vibrant terra rossa soils of Puglia may look rich, but are in fact low-vigor with a high mineral content. Combined with altitude and the cool off-shore breezes from the Adriatic that keep vineyards dry and healthy, they help protect the acidity that's present in everything from the region's wine to olive oil and tomatoes. Several IGT/P-designated wines held their own against wines produced under more rigorous production stan- dards. Most producers employed restrained use of French and occasionally American oak for wines with fresh acidity, ripe but not dried fruit, and flavors ranging from iris, raspberry, plum, cassis, vanilla, resinous herbs, black pepper, dark chocolate, graphite and dusty minerality. As the heavy lifting has already been done, these are highlights of 48 Primitivos tasted by my panel listed as they are labeled, along with the top four wines selected by the combined juries. Full results of the 2014 Radici del Sud can be found at Southern Italy's Primitivo 1. Vinicola Savese 2010 Tradizione del Nonno, Manduria DOP Opaque with rich, oak-dominant aromas and blockbuster blue and black fruit. 2. Apollonio Casa Vinicola 2010 Terragnolo, Salento IGP Toasty, woodsy aromas with rich flavors of dark fruit, roasted peppers and exotic spice. 3. Pietraventosa 2010 Riserva di Pietraventosa, Gioia del Colle DOC Deeply extracted with notes of coffee, opulent, bright red and blue fruit and medium tannins. 4. Cantina Sociale di Lizzano 2010 Manonera, Manduria DOP Floral, iris and dried plum aromas with bright, lifted medium berry and plum flavors. 5. Tenute Emera 2011 Orrio di Emera, Manduria DOP Fresh and bright with herb and plum aromas, rich, balanced fruit and earthy minerality. 6. Cantine Paolo Leo 2011 Fiore di Vigne, Salento IGT Cedar dominates the aromas, the dark plummy fruit and a crisp, lengthy finish. 7. Antico Palmento 2011 Acini Spargoli, Manduria DOP Chocolate and plum notes with lively cassis flavors and round, resolved tannins. 8. A. San Chirico 2011 Vigne Vecchie, Manduria DOP Mocha and crisp mineral aromas, rich and weighty with generous dark, fruit flavors. 9. Calatrasi Allora Primitivo 2011, Salento IGP Overt cassis aromas, balanced with bright, tight flavors of blue plum, black licorice and medium tannins. 10. Fatalone Organic Wines 2007 Riserva, Gioia del Colle DOC Woodsy, earthy aromas, lively with savoury resinous red fruit flavors and an overt finish.

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