Among the many exciting things about red wines from Italy is that the country has so many different grape varieties that it’s very easy to find ones you’ve never tried. Even if you just look at southern Italy, you can discover delicious wines that might be totally unfamiliar. A case in point is aglianico, which is known as the “nebbiolo of the South” and king of red grapes in Campania. Similarly in Puglia, negroamaro plays a starring role in many marvelous full-bodied reds. The following are two examples.
Il Vulcano Imperiale 2020, Campania Rosso, ItalyBought • Starrs, 135 South Big Bend Boulevard, in October for $14.99
Description • Il Vulcano Imperiale is a special project developed for Tavolo Vigneto, a St. Louis-based importer of Italian wines. The wine, which is only available in certain Midwest markets, is made from 100% aglianico grown in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius. The result is a medium-bodied wine with a tangy acidity and firm tannins. It’s an earthy and spicy red that tastes of concentrated black cherries. This is a flavorful wine that would go well with barbecued meat and portobello mushroom steaks.
Masseria Li Veli 2019 Passamante, Salice Salentino, Italy
Bought • Starrs, 135 South Big Bend Boulevard, in October for $15.79
Description • Some of Italy’s best negroamaro wines are believed to come from Salice Salentino, where this high-scoring red is produced. Although no oak aging is required for non-riserva Salice Salentino wines, Li Veli gives Passamante six months in oak barrels. The result is a complex, full-bodied red that tastes of dark plums and blackberries. This is a spicy and savory red that has firm tannins and a bright acidity. It ends with a long, herbaceous finish and would pair with braised and grilled meat and spicy charcuterie.
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