Last June I was lucky enough to be invited to Puglia to sit on an international judging panel for Radici del Sud, a competition which focuses on native grape varieties grown in Southern Italy. Over five days we looked at some pretty amazing wines and if you click here you can read about my time in Puglia.
One of my fellow judges and wine writer for Decanter, Tom Maresca has just written about his experience in Puglia at Radici del Sud 2012 in the latest February edition of Decanter. In a special lift out focused solely on Italy, Maresca has given detailed insight into the grape varieties grown in Puglia and his favourite producers. If you buy and read wine magazines, the February edition is well worth getting.
Tom also outlines his ‘Great red buys from Puglia’ and featured strongly in this, was my favourite producer from the competition called Fatalone. The estate now run by Pasquale Petrera make absolutely amazing reds from Primativo and also a stunning white made from Greco. These wines will be available via Mondo Imports around March and I can’t wait to show these in Australia.
The wines of Fatalone are pure expressions of Primitivo and showcase the quality that this grape variety can achieve in Puglia. From first sip, I knew these wines were a class above. Pasquale also makes a fantastic wine wine from Greco called Spinomarino and it was for me the surprise packet of the competition.
Tom’s review of Fatalone:
Primativo Riserva, Gioia del Colle 2005: Still tastes young and fresh. Producer predicts 20 more years of life; very fine. Drink 2013-2025 (93 points)
Primativo, Gioia del Colle 2008: Great fruit, long bitter almond finish. A lovely wine. 15% but you wouldn’t guess it. Drink 2013-2018 (90 points)
In June this year, I had the opportunity to head over to Puglia and judge in a competition that looked at the best examples of native varieties grown in the South of Italy. Whilst the overall quality of wines were very high, there was one producer that bowled me over with the quality of wines across the board.
The wines of Fatalone in Gioia del Collein Puglia were for me the best examples of Primitivo that I tried throughout the competition. Every opportunity I had to go back and try the wines confirmed that these wines show the high notes top quality Primativo can hit: balanced, fragrant, intense with lovely palate weight and without the fruit sweetness which can hinder so many examples of Primativo from this region.
The wines of Fatalone at Radici del Sud 2012
We believe the success of a wine has to start from the roots of the vine by choosing all the best for the fruit of our labour, at any sacrifice, to create a very limited production of the highest quality.
Every step is carried out with the care and the wisdom which only the human touch can express. We want our wine to proudly mirror the territory, the soil and the men who are its authors.
In the deepest respect for Nature, we have made our production cycle 100% sustainable by practising organic farming, without using irrigation and processing just our own grapes located all around our cellar. Taking advantage of a renewable energy source, we power all our production process with solar energy. Thereby, we can proudly guarantee we produce a Zero CO2 emission wine made just with our locally grown organic grapes.
Our business philosophy is no different. We meticulously manage every aspect of production from the vine, to the bottle, to the final stages of marketing by carefully selecting customers who understand, respect and share our thinking. Fatalone
The origins of this noble Aminean grape date back to ancient time. It reached our peninsula with the help of the Amineans from Greece, immediately after the Trojan War (XIII B.C.). Their first settlement was in Apulia, where they began growing the Greco grape. It is a medium vigour vine with a good yield and has medium-sized and pentagon-shaped leaves. It has a medium-small bunch cone-frustum-shaped and one of its two heads is more developed. It’s full of little spheroid yellowish berries. Its must is very floral and sweet-smelling.
Not only does Fatalone make killer Primitivo but they also produce minuscule quantities of Greco. This wine blew me away at Radici for it’s perfume and seductiveness. It is a wine perfectly suites to the Australian climate.
The wines of Fatalone will be available in Australia in the first few months of 2013.
“The winning labels represent the wines that best interpret the characteristics of the native grapes they are produced from and those the judging experts found more interesting.”
After a fantastic week spent at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia for Radici del Sud 2012. The winning wines from the competition have been announced. Unlike most competitions Radici has a national jury made up of ‘wine lovers’ and an international jury made up us so called ‘experts’.
Whilst the national jury is labelled as ‘wine lovers’ in reality it is made up of the best sommeliers, restaurant owners and journalists that are based in Italy. It should really be called the ‘domestic experts’. The international jury was made up of wine writers/bloggers and importers from different international markets.
Below are the names of those judging on both panels.
Gruppo assaggiatori Internazionali:
Tom Maresca: wine writer e autore di famosi libri collaboratore di Decanter USA
Yesterday afternoon was an interesting session at Radici del Sud 2012, it included for me the best wine I have tasted during the whole competition, but also a number of wines which underwhelmed. Aglianico is one of my favourite wine styles. When it is right, it makes some of the best wines on the planet.
When it is smothered in oak, it becomes dull and boring, like so many new world wines that taste of coffee and vanilla. During the class of Aglianico’s yesterday, those producers that did get it right produced wonderful wines, that stood out like beacons compared to many of the other wines.
It was interesting that for me, it was Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata which were able to producer better, more variety correct wines than Campania. It seems there is an international influence on Campania which is hopefully a fad as it is robbing many wines of their indigenous style.
In today’s final morning session we look at Taurasi so hopefully Aglianico from Campania can get back on track with this bracket.
With all the judging sessions of Radici nearly finished, it has given many of the judges a fantastic insight of the wines of the south. The best examples are as good as any of the best wines made in the world today. However, as with any region that is just starting to make a name for itself, many producers are unsure what style they should be aiming for and in future it will be interesting if each region can as a whole, make wine that highlights the advantages of using native varieties.
For me, it has not only been fantastic in trying so many diverse wines from the south, but also meeting so many people who are passionate about the wines of Italy and especially the wines of Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. With this much enthusiasm and knowledge, it is good to know that the south is in good hands.
Well you might think that after close to seven hours of trying wines of the south of Italy that you might reach a stage where your palate and brain has had enough, but it has been so amazing how diverse and fantastic the wines from Campania, Sicily, Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria.
There are many great producers here with the best wines showing both elegance and power, and beautiful balance. Today it was two Calabrese producers that really shone through.
Two Ciro producers, Du Cropio and Ippolito 1845 are making some fantastic wines from Galliopo in Calabria. They are have fantastic power of fruit and tannins, but are in perfect balance and I can see both wines ageing gracefully for many years to come.
The reputation of Southern Italian wines are positively growing and it was producers like Du Cropio and Ippolito 1845 that are now showing just how good the varieties they grow can be and this benefits not only Calabria but the whole of the south.
Yesterday afternoon we spent meeting some more producers who are competing in Radici del Sud. In the afternoon bracket it was the reds which really shone. This 2008 Taurasi from Feudi di San Gregorio was close to the best wine of the afternoon. Balanced with poise, with equal amounts of fruit and tannin. It is a wine that will live for a long time.
After our afternoon tasting session finished we headed out to a local winery called I Pastini in Locorotondo who makes fantastic whites from native varieties. His estate was typical Southern Italian with centuries old buildings standing in the middle of each paddock.
On the property are many Trulli houses dating back to the 17th and 18th century. All original and all in fantastic condition. In Australia, these houses would be priceless.
After our winery visit we headed a short distance for dinner at Masseria Aprile, an impressive property with it’s own church and beautiful buildings.
We had the local chapter of the Slow Food cook for us and the food, which never seemed to stop coming, was truly amazing. There was close to twenty dishes with the highlight for me being the meat cooked over coals.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia