In the Salento peninsula of Italy, the Negroamaro harvest will begin any day now, as my friend Paolo reports on his blog.
When I visited Apulia (Puglia) in June of this year as a judge in the Radici Wines festival, I had the great fortune of attending a vertical tasting of Graticciaia, a dry-style dried grape expression of Negroamaro created in 1986 by the Vallone family in Salento, a wine considered by many to be the greatest wine of Apulia. (No relation to my friend and client Tony Vallone in Houston.)
Only made in top years, the grapes for Graticciaia are late-harvested and then dried on mats (graticci in Italian, hence the enonym). They are then vinified in stainless steel and aged in large casks (similar to and inspired by the wines and winemaking of Valpolicella).
When I tasted at Vallone, they served a flight including the 2003, 1997, 1994, and 1990 and we were all impressed by the nuance that these wines attain with age. The 1994, in particular, blew me away: the fruit had emerged brilliantly, as had a wonderful sea salt note that danced with the wine’s bright acidity. The younger vintages were muscular yet elegant, with classic spicy notes accentuated by the winemaking style: think cumin and cinnamon sprinkled over ripe plums and dried cherries.
Starting tonight, I’ll be pouring a mini-vertical — 2006 and 2005 — of Graticciaia at Sotto in Los Angeles (where I’ll be pouring wine on the floor tonight, tomorrow night, and Saturday night).
Please drop by and I’ll tell you some wine tales!