Lesson #32,583 on how, even in a country with a wine history as lengthy as Italy, you should always look at things with a fresh eye. Puglia represents the 'heel' part of the Italian boot, and has 4 millenia of wine growing history as it was among the first areas settled by the Greeks. Modern civilization (the last 600 years counts as 'modern' here) has not been favorable as they are cut off from the interior of Italy by the Apennines mountains and much of the cultural prosperity of cities like Florence, Rome, and Naples since the Renaissance. Cities like Bari and Lecce aren't nearly the cultural and tourist attractions by comparison, so most of the world's attention has not been drawn to the wines made here. Many factors over the last few decades has seen growth and improvement in the Puglian wine industry, and those that are paying attention are finding many things to be excited about. The region is warmer than most of Italy, and the wines have a much spicier and forward character to them, so those that find most Italian reds too austere now have wines to explore. Zinfandel fans will want to take note as well since Primitivo is the parent to all those fantastic old vines found in California, and is the base for much of the wines here. Malvasia Nera is one of the partner grapes in the traditional Puglian field blend, playing the role somewhat like Petite Sirah would by adding darker fruit and some tannic structure.
On its own, Malvasia Nera is fairly inky in the glass with lots of black fruit and lightly raisiny red grape aromas, showing lots of the warm climate with plenty of underlying sweet spice. On the palate there is lots of fruit without the sweeter jammy side that can often plague Californian Zinfandel, so the ripeness and complexity of the fruit comes through without leaving a sugary coating on your tongue or any heat from excessive alcohol. It IS still Italy, after all, so balance and food compatibility is still prized. As fun as this is on its own, matched with food is where this really shines, capable of working great with richer, sweeter sauces that can butt heads with more traditional wines. Think barbecue of almost any origin; vinegar based, tomato, rubs, Korean, etc. This and its regional friends are about as good as it gets.
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