Giving Salice Salentino a Chance
Salice Salentino Gets No Respect
Do a little research on Salice Salentino, and the nicest comment you’ll hear is: “At least it’s inexpensive”. Dig a little deeper, and you might hear “ripe and bitter.” Wow, faint praise indeed. As our #ItalianFWT group was exploring Puglia, I approached the bottle of Salice Salentino I bought with a bit of trepidation, would it be everything I had heard?
My worries were unfounded, the wine was very nice. Ripe? Yes, but not raisiny or pruny. Bitter? Yes, but think “dark chocolate” when you think bitter, and you might have a more positive reaction. Besides, a bit of bitter flavor is so typically Italian, it tells you a little about where the wine is from. We served the wine with an easy meal of grilled steak and green beans with a roasted potato/artichoke medley in a southern Italian style.
Leone de Castris Salice Salentino Maiana DOC 2011 ($13 at Solo Vino)
The Leone de Castris winery has been in business since 1665! They have multiple estates and grow a wide variety of grapes. The DOC regulation for Salice Salentino requires a high percentage of Negroamaro grapes. This wine is 90% Negroamaro with the remaining 10% Malvasia Nera. The vines are head trained, which means the individual vine looks more like a bush, no training wires. This is a useful training method in warm and sunny locations, like Puglia. The wine is fermented over at least 10 days at a low temperature of 20-22° C, followed by at least 6 months in barrel.
Eye: Clear, medium ruby color with a garnet edge
Nose: A little hot, blueberries, blackberries, medium+ intensity, mushrooms, a bit of evergreen needles.
Mouth: Luscious ripe fruit in the mouth, not raisiny or pruny at all. Good cleansing tannins, not overpowering. A bit of iron, with a pleasant touch of bitterness.
We liked this wine a lot. It was ripe without going overboard, and that touch of bitter gave it Italian flair. Great with a rare steak, veggies, and artichoke potatoes. Don’t think “inexpensive”, think “great deal!”