Sunday, March 16, 2008

Off the Beaten Path in Italy: Negroamaro and Ripasso

Keeping with the Italian theme this week I thought I'd try some more Italian reds, a negroamaro from Salento and an IGT Valpolicella using an "innovative" ripasso method.

Crafted from the Negramaro grape in Italy's Salento appellation, the aromatic 2003 Tormaresca Masseria Maime burst forth with dark cherries, leather and black tea, meaty earthy notes, some rose petal. But the haunting nose did not fulfill its promise on the palate - powerful, crisp and dry, with a neat slatey/minerally texture, but it became hot and unbalanced as the evening wore on. Perhaps a minimal decant would be more appropriate? Anyway, a rustic, interesting, pour, but that's a hefty price tag.
cork. 14% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$34.25 (SAQ)

A classic Valpolicella blend of corvina and rondinella, with a touch of sangiovese, the 2004 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre was cherry candy on the nose, adding some vanilla, coffee and a hint of tar. Luscious, but not flabby on the palate, with velvety tannins and a nice long finish, and unlike the wine above it improved in the decanter. The Palazzo Della Torre is a consistently reliable bottle at a decent price, and always has a home in my cellar.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$27.70 (SAQ)

So, the initial excitement for the negroamaro faded over the evening, while the cherry candy nose on the Allegrini was misleading. For a cheaper (maybe even better) negroamaro I highly recommend the Taurino Notarpanaro. Both paired well with a Greek-styled lamb stew, but the negroamaro worked a bit better in this role.

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