1998 Rosa del Golfo “Portulano” Salento IGT

Hello friends. What are you doing checking e-mail? Shouldn’t you be mixing a brine for your turkey right now?

Well, since you’re already here, here’s one more short distraction before you return to Thanksgiving preparations: a well-priced library wine from southern Italy:

One message that has come through loud and clear since our foray into international wines: more library parcels. So we’re tasting as many older wines as there are parcels in the city, and every once in awhile, we stumble on a little undiscovered gem.

And I do mean little. This parcel is barely big enough for an offering, and I’m going to limit order requests to 2 bottles, although I suspect 1-bottle allocations will be more the norm.

But still, I couldn’t pass this parcel up. The wine has a scruffy appeal, from the outside (where I would have liked our Italian friends to use a bit stronger glue on the rapidly-peeling labels), to the inside, where rustic Negroamaro from Salento has softened and matured into a compelling drink of wine.

Wines from southern Italy are hot right now. While the Tuscan and Piemontese neighbors to the north compete for the high end of the market, sun-soaked southern Italy pumps out well-priced, rustic gems. Today we’re in Puglia, the heel of the boot, closer as the crow flies to Albania than to Tuscany. And more specifically, we’re in Salento, which is Negroamaro country.

Negroamaro (“black-bitter” would be the  direct translation) is not as mean as the name indicates, although the Italian palate is notoriously comfortable with the bitter end of the spectrum. Here it makes up 90% of the cuvee, blended with 10% Malvasia for some aromatic lift. Give this wine about 30 minutes open before pouring, and you’ll find a lovely, maturing aromatic mix of earth and leather, green tea and bright red fruit. The palate still possesses plenty of vibrancy, and wonderful complexity, with plenty of earthy, peat-smoke nuances framing a core of dried redcurrant fruit.

As I mentioned, southern Italian wines are a popular category right now, but everyone is drinking them young, assuming that with those tariffs, they must be the early-drinking cheap-and-cheerful type. A wine like this puts lie to that idea.

This is from Rosa del Golfo, one of those uniquely Italian entities that makes a little of everything: olive oil, vinegar, grappa, wine. I wish we could offer some of each, but today it’s only the wine, and not much of it. Please limit order requests to 2 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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