This fall I spent a week in Puglia tasting wines, and made many interesting discoveries. Here is a selection of the wines that impressed me the most, beginning with whites and continuing with reds. Some very fine wines!
I Pastini Rampone Fiano Minutolo Valle D'Itria IGT 2008Lively brassy gold with greenish brassy relflections and white rim. The bouquet is intriguing, with rich floral accents mingled with mint and some nutmeg, and hints of orange blossoms, and spice; though some of the other tasters are talking about Moscato I find that it brings to mind the Malvasias of Emilia Romagna. Very nice, and a wine one can converse with. On the palate it's rich, and rather languid, with full languid fruit -- apricot and bitter orange with pleasant savory accents and clean slightly greenish gunflinty tannins that lead into a warm savory fruit laced finish. Very nice, and a completely unexpected surprise. Worth seeking out.
This is a Fiano related to the Cambpanian Fiani. It's brassy golden green with brassy reflections and brilliant greenish highlights. Rich bouquet with lemony citric accents mingled with hints of gunflint and deft acidity. Bracing and quite zesty. On the palate it's bright, with rich honeydew melon laced with greenish accents and supported by bright, zesty citric acidity that's more towards lime than lemon, and flows into a long warm citric finish with pleasing greenish peppery accents, and some greenish tannic notes as well. Quite pleasant, and will drink well as an aperitif or with rich fish dishes, including fried fish, and will also work well with fried meats and vegetables. It will be perfect in the summer months.
I Pastini Cupa Bianco d'Alessano Valle D'Itria IGT 2008Brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is pleasant, with delicate floral accents and hints of hay mingled with delicate greenish accents, some gunflint, and bright acidity. Quite a bit to say. On the palate it's bright, with slightly smoky grapefruit acidity supporting lively citric fruit and clean slightly greenish tannins that flow into a clean rather bitter finish that has a clean citric underpinning, and becomes rather languid with time. Quiet pleasant, and will work well as an aperitif or with fish or cheese based antipasti, and will also work well with fish. A nice discovery.
Pale brassy gold with brassy reflections. The bouquet is rich, with elegant greenish herbal notes, hints of sage and some honeydew melon and hints of elicriso (the herb). It has quite a bit to say. On the palate it's rich, with lively savory minerality and warm citric acidity as well, with some greenish artichoke petal tannins as well that flow into a warm dry savory finish; it's quite pleasant and will drink very well with fish or white meats, including creamy dishes.
Brassy apricot yellow with golden reflections. The bouquet is powerful, with bright sweet apricot fruit supported by clover honey, citrus, and some herbal accents, in particular sage. Quite nice to sniff, because it's sweet but not cloying. On the palate it's full and rich, with elegant apricot fruit that manages to combine brown sugar sweetness with green apricot skin bitterness, which keeps the wine on its toes and interesting. Pleasant, and though one often hears sweet wine should be drunk with sweets, I would be more tempted to serve it with moderately aged cheeses.
This is 100% Nero di Troia; it's a brilliant pomegranate red that's quite pretty. The bouquet is clean, with floral-herbal accents and some red berry fruit mingled with underbrush and a fair amount of savory acidity. On the palate it's medium bodied, with lively minerality and bright tannins with a burr that leads into a clean bitter finish. It's more the little brother of a red than a classic rosè, and one can taste the limestone the vines draw their life from. Quite pleasant and will work very well with a wide variety of foods, ranging from cold cuts and fresh cheeses though pasta and soups, and also with simple meats. In a word, versatile, and though many 2008 rosès are by now beginning to tire this one hasn't. Impressive.
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with iodine and underbrush mingled with berry fruit, some spice, and delicate floral overtones. Nice depth, and graceful. On the palate it's full, with fresh lively cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a slightly greenish burr and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. Quite pleasant, and nicely displays the potential of Nero di Troia done in steel: Interesting fruit, interesting floral accents, nice tannins, and nothing to get in the way or mask it. It will drink very well with roasts or stews, and you can expect the bottle to go quickly.
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and violet rim. Tremendous color. Powerful bouquet with musty underbrush and savory spice mingled with wet leaves, minerality, and some gunflint. Considerable depth; as it opens it reveals all sorts of facets, in particular intriguing hints of crushed almonds. On the palate it's ample and rich, with savory cherry plum fruit supported by smooth cedar-laced tannins that flow into a clean rather bitter finish. Quick to write but pleasant, and will drink very well with red meats, especially more succulent meats as the tannins do a fine job of clearing the palate. It's fruit rich but not a fruit bomb, and is a fine food wine that will also age nicely for at least 5 years.
This is Uva di Troia in Purezza, and is fermented in steel. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with violet rim and black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry plum fruit laced with floral accents and hints of graphite bitterness and hints of animal hair. Quite a bit going on, in a vibrantly fresh key. On the palate it's full, with chewy cherry fruit supported by bitter graphite acidity and smooth sweet tannins that again have a dusky bitter graphite shaving matrix, and flow into a brooding cherry plum finish. It's a wine of considerable character that will work well with succulent grilled meats or light roasts, and has quite a bit to say. Very pleasant, and also not at all overripe. In short, refreshing and pleasant.
This is again Nero di Troia, but fermented in upright wooden casks. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. Elegant bouquet with bright slightly jammy berry fruit supported by strawberry acidity and some floral accents; the wood isn't evident, though one would note its absence, by way of counter I found the jammy accents pleasant. On the palate it's full, and rich, with powerful cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a warm smooth cedary overlay that gives way to a burr with time. It's considerably younger than the Vigna Grande, but is cut from the same cloth. If anything, the Rinzacco is a little more approachable form an international standpoint, with tannins that display more polish.