Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva 2011
Today, I'm going to introduce you to my funky Italian friend, Negroamaro. This black grape is grown in the southern portion of the country in the region of Puglia, the heel of the boot if you will. The land is flat, it's dry, it's sunny, and it's hot. It has all the qualities of producing really full bodied, high alcohol, in-your-face-fruity wines. But Negroamaro, being the saucy minx that it is, manages to express bold yet refined flavors of red and black fruits, spice, and a funky medicinal note. Many wines made with Negroamaro do not list the grape variety on the label, so look for the DOCs of Salice Salentino and Copertino, which are either 100% Negroamaro or blended with other local varieties.
Whilst in my local wine shop, my eyes fell on this particular bottle of wine and suddenly craving some weirdness in my glass that night, I snapped it up. It showed notes of sour cherry, blackberry, anise, tobacco leaf, black tea, that characteristic medicinal funk, and a whiff of barnyard on the nose (in the least gross of ways). The wine had a noticeable alcohol burn, coarse tannins, and a really pleasant medium level of acidity. It was surprisingly quite good, especially considering its price point of $11.99.
A unique wine like a Salice Salentino deserves an equally unique food pairing. I've found that the easiest way to pair a wine made with a local grape variety is to serve it along with regional food. In this case, that would be dishes hailing from Southern Italy. I'm by no means an expert, but this would go really nicely with lamb, vegetable pasta made with tomatoes, eggplant, and cauliflower, spicy sausage dishes, and the proverbial cop out: pizza.
I leave you with the quote that inspired this post.
"We want the funk."
Kendrick Lamar (and Negroamaro fans everywhere)
Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva 2011: Great value, definitely give it a try. Thumbs up! $11.99