Posts tagged ‘Puglia’

July 10, 2019

Drinking Wine in Italy

After a month in Italy there is nothing much to do except complain (again, more) about wine in BC.  The sheer misery of the options, the insane cost, the supply chain to the hospitality industry, and on and on.

 

What’s VAT in Italy?  22%.  Twenty-two per-cent.  And yet, and yet you can pick up phenomenal local wine for 12 Euros (approximately $18 CDN).  Wine at a restaurant, really lovely drinkable wine ins the 14-18 Euros category.  We found in Puglia that if you wanted to shell out the very grand amount of 20 Euros you were heading into 92 pointster categories.  It was wow and wow and more wow and easy, easy, easy on the pocket book.

 

In the above (random) collage (much edited) I’ve pasted the two most expensive bottles at top that we decided to try along the way.  The Michele Calo Spano Salento Rosso, which retails for close to 40 Euros, we scored for 35.  It was excellent, absolutely hands down the best Negroamaro we drank (and we drank a lot) although given what’s available in the region it defied type; it seemed almost Californian in its clean modernity, the lack of acidity;, the abundance of fruit but without supreme depth made it seem a little too Robert Parker for us.  As for liquor board controlled buying, I would say both BC and Ontario fail the consumer when it comes to Negroamaro. Fail.

 

Next to that you’re looking at a (random sample) of a truly wonderful local Primitivo, the Schola Sarmenti Cubardi Primitivo.  At the wine store 12 Euros, in a restaurant we scored if for 22.  And it was just all awesome; oodles of cherry and smoke and chicory and herby notes that define terroir.  We’ve had the decent bottle or two of Primitivo in BC but nothing like the Cubardi range (for which there are a number of varietals and all are worth a sample).  As for liquor board controlled buying, Ontario does a decent job with Primitivo; BC, however, is again a fail.  In London (UK) you can find this monumentally satisfying red for 15 pounds (or less than $30 CDN) which is just ludicrous.  What Okanagan plonk can a Canadian score in BC, taxes all in, under $30?

 

Lower left is a wine from a local masseria, the L’Astore Alberelli Negroamaro.  Organic.  Old vines.  High in alcohol and not cheap and not easy to access, even in Lecce, but we found it, and we loved it, and we wanted more, and couldn’t get it, and that of course led to me on another BC wine rant.  This was a juicier, rounder, plumper Negroamaro with tannins that sat up against red fruits with a challenge.  Outstandingly food friendly, from stuffed zucchini blossoms to ragu orecchiette.

 

The whites down south were hit and miss.  With temperatures in the mid to high 30s they needed to be cold, and outside they warmed up too quickly.  (A red, however, refrigerated briefly, then served al fresco, that worked a dream.)  Having said that, it was easy to access Friulano.  Welcome to my newest favorite varietal.  Full, assertive, nuanced, fleshy, like ripe nectarine juice running down your chin.  Gorgeous with southern Italian cuisine.  The Doro Princic is a relatively inexpensive white, 14 Euros, with  nothing going against it except availability.  Ontario and BC, our largest socialist fueled wine buyers, how ya doin’ with Friulano?  Two and one.  Fail and fail.

 

The last wine, also a pricey bottle, is from the Bastianich vineyard, deep down in the heel.  And, if truth be told, the only reason I bought it was because of, you know, Lidia and Joe and how pompous Joe comes off on TV and how full of himself in respect to their wine he is which they “personally oversee” in Puglia and so on.  They have a base model Friulano but in for a penny we got the Plus, a whopping 30 Euros (but, let’s be fair, that’s $45 CDN and plenty of BC top wines are more than that before onerous taxes).  Gorgeous.  Speechless I am in its appeal, from aroma to palate; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  So, here I’m going to compare it with top whites from, you know, Culmina, Clos de Soleil, Meyer, and all I can say is they are lost in the dust (or, as things go in Europe, the diesel particulate).  But so is BC when it comes to choice, diversity, and consumer appetites.

 

What’s next BC Liquor?  One white and one red from a spigot?  BC Liquor: It’s a fail, Herculaneum Pompeii style fail.

July 17, 2017

Castel Del Monte Tormaresca Trentangeli, 2014

Puglia, down in the boot, produces some lively wine, without the heft of Tuscany (meaning price tag).  We are very fortunate that here in BC the Liquor Board stocks an enormously appealing and not too expensive red which is not only delectable but organic and can be sourced across the province.

 

This is an ideal red for the patio, for the BBQ, for sipping and eating and socializing.  It’s not top of the game, it’s no Brunello, on the palate it lacks, but the finish is all love, joyously generous, and in a group you can drink three bottles for under $75.  That is, unless you order it in a restaurant, where it will run you an exorbitant $55 or more.

 

It’s in Smithers, it’s in Stewart; it’s in Kaslo it’s in Fruitvale.  I think the Italians would approve.  And I believe it’s worth more, all things considered, than the 89 points Gismondi gave it.

 

Price: $19.50 at BC Liquor before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: I think if socialist filmmaker Ken Loach gave his seal of approval to wine he’d give this a gold star.

July 20, 2016

Natalino Del Prete “Nataly” Primitivo, 2012

Drinking this wine is like a find at Winners.  The 86 karat Spoonmaker’s Diamond in the Topkapi Palace was, the tale goes, found by a fisherman, traded to a jeweler as “a worthless piece of glass” for three spoons.  This could be Puglia’s three spoons red.  And organic to boot. No pun intended.

Natalino Del Prete Nataly Primitivo

Ever see that dog at the park that’s well behaved and cute as a button and a mish mash of breeds that no one can quite make out?  That’s this wine, the wine that could never win awards, that would never suit Robert Parker’s 92 point oaky palate, that is magnificent in its uniqueness but bears no resemblance to the finest France has on offer.  It is raw, earthy, loamy, fruit and acid and berry and flower and a touch of Rooibos.  It was, truthfully, not that wonderful a sipper, a little too uneven, striking in its pungency.  But here’s the kicker: It was stunningly food friendly.  Superlative with food.  We had zucchini parmesan (hey, there’s so much zucchini at the farmer’s markets right now, what else can you do with the stuff?) and it was a colossal success, it stood up to tomatoes and parmesan a dream.  It was steadfast in its strength of character and flavour, unwavering in its uniqueness, and simply a treat to drink.

 

It is not a wine for beginners, not an introduction to Italian reds, or even Puglia (or Sicily).  It is rustic, sensual and far from generic.  If there is an argument for terroir, you can find it here.  Absolutely one of the most fascinating, intriguing and captivating wines I’ve drunk in a long time.

 

Price: A not too price friendly $35 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

 

Market Liquidity: Out of time, like a Ramon Navarro movie from the silent era.

September 18, 2014

Verso Rosso Salento, 2013

Local reviewer Anthony Gismondi wrote: “Wow. Delicious soft round juicy red…colour is dark, the nose spicy, the palate southern Italian rustic but with smoky, silky textures.” A little tight with his points, he gave it 89.

This is my take: Wow. BC Liquor has shelves full of mediocre Italian reds, woebegone whites, and at prices that are an insult to patrons. And here, under $20, is this humble blend from the boot, just begging to be shared with friends. It should be the house red at our umpteen nouveau pizza spots and faux-Italian trattorias that dot the trendy shopping streets. Astonishingly good value, a treat to drink. A little shy on the finish.

071

Price: $19.99 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: If you can find it, find it.