At the heel of the Italian boot is Puglia (also known as Apulia), a warm and dry region known more for agriculture than industry. The grape that makes the region’s best reds is negroamaro, literally “black bitter.” In truth, many wines made from this grape are big, thuggish and dull, or tart, unripe and dirty tasting. But, when the thing is on mark, one can get a really nice wine for little money.
The 2011 Tinazzi Feudo di Santa Croce Malnera Salento IGT is 80 percent negroamaro and 20 percent malavasia nero, the latter being a grape used for color and softer fruit. So many flavors leap out of the glass: earth, cherries, black fruits, smoke and juiciness – all adding to the full flavor that makes this wine long in the mouth. Add to the list licorice, bark, mulled blueberries and even a bit of tar in the nose. If you think that last term means bad stuff, you have never described a great Barolo.
This is a good, strapping red that would be great with grilled meats and hearty stews.
All and all, this is an impressive wine that thrills the wallet and the senses. It sells for $10 a bottle and can be found at Wines LLC in Eastlake.
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Roger Gentile is the owner of Gentile’s, the Wine Sellers – www.gentiles.com – and the author of two books on wine.