Drink Magazine

Grape Spotlight: Salice Salentino Negroamaro

By Winecompass
"Puglia's Salento Peninsula is arguably the source of the finest Negroamaro wines, particularly those produced under the Salice Salentino DOC title" - wine-searcher.com
Grape Spotlight: Salice Salentino NegroamaroLet's discover why. It is believed that Negroamaro originated in Greece and at least 1,500 years ago migrated through the Balkins and across the Adriatic Sea. This dark-skinned grape variety found a home in Puglia's warm Mediterranean climate, particularly in Salice Salentino, where, despite being landlocked enjoys cool breezes from both the Adriatic Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. In addition, the grape's hardiness provides a drought tolerance critical in the harsh climate at Italy's lower boot.  These conditions allow Negroamaro vines to achieve optimum levels of ripeness. 

According to wine-searcher.com, "Negroamaro is valued for its deep color, medium-full tannins, and dark berry fruit flavors. The variety can also add earthen tones that can cross over into slightly medicinal flavors. It is mildly aromatic and can produce complex wines that show characteristics of ground brown spices such as clove, cinnamon, and allspice."

The Salice Salentino DOC was created in 1976 centered on the town of Salice and spreading out to the north and west. Initially, the regulations covered only red wines but eventually white, rosé, fortified, and sparkling wines were permitted in subsequent revisions.  The DOC favors the production of a single varietal Negroamaro (90%) but also provides for a red blend with the final wine requiring 75% Negroamaro. Vines in Salice Salentino are generally planted in deep clay-limestone soils and receive up to 300 days of sunshine each year - with many of these days exceeding 104°F.  

You would think that these conditions would yield extremely high alcohol wines - but the Cantele Salice Salentino DOC Rosso Riserva 2015 ($12) weighs in at only 13%. The wine is enjoyable in every aspect -- and not just the price. It starts with earthy plums on the nose, then a dusty cherry and allspice interior, finishing with approachable tannins and surprisingly lifting acids. The north-south exposure obviously allows for sufficient nighttime cooling. Although this family estate winery is only 30 years old, it is operated by the third generation of Canteles and a local leader in predictive and integrated agriculture practices.  We look forward to visiting this summer to learn more about Negroamaro, Salice Salentino, Puglia, and Cantina Cantele. Cheers.

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