When thinking of Italian wine, Amarone, Barolo and Chianti may be what most readily springs to mind, but Richard Baudains reveals a treasure trove of original yet overlooked wines just waiting to be discovered. See his pick of 10 wines from the most exciting Italian terroirs here...
Unchartered Italy: Salice Salentino Rosato / Salento Rosato, Puglia
8. Salice Salentino Rosato/ Salento Rosato, Puglia
Puglia produces enormous quantities of pink wine in an extremely heterogeneous range of styles, with a bewildering number of names and, at times, an undeniable quality deficit. So it’s not surprising that it tends to get dismissed as a category. This is a shame because there are wines which deserve better attention. The area with the longest traditions is Salento. Rosato may no longer be the focus wine it once was here, but it is still taken very seriously by producers who, eschewing the quick fix of modern soft pressing and cold fermentation, maintain an much weightier, more complex style. The reference points are the Salento IGT or the slightly more strictly regulated Salice Salentino DOC. The wines use the same grapes as the traditional reds of the area: Negroamaro with the addition, in the case of Salice Salentino, of Malvasia Nera to add a touch of softness and aroma. Expect the unexpected; mature shades and dry, even slightly austere wines with a very satisfying tangy intensity.
Azienda Monaci, Girofle, Salento 2009
Evolved, honeyed but still fresh nose, with precise plum balance between sweet fruit and bitter herbs. Great length and concentration on the finish, with notes of white pepper and cinnamon. 18pts/20
Price: £7.85–£7.99 (2010) All About Wine, Boutinot, Bacchinalia, Hangingditch
Li Veli, Salento 2010
Intense scented nose of violets and wild herbs. Bone dry palate that is concentrated, savoury and surprisingly full-bodied. Long finish of berry fruit and pomegranate, and a salty-mineral twist. 18pts/20
Price: £9.99 (2008) Negozio Classica, Swig
Other recommended producers:
Michele Calò, Francesco Candido, Paolo Leo, Leone de Castris, Masseria Altemura