Italy is famous for its treasure trove of indigenous grapes, and this week, City Vino features a couple of these treasures with you. Both Negroamaro and Gaglioppo hail from Italy’s southern regions of Puglia and Calabria.
Negroamaro is a dark-skinned grape that has been in the Puglia region of Italy for at least 1500 years. The vine grows vigorously, is high-yielding, and grows well despite Puglia’s hot summers and its drought-like conditions. Rumor has it that the name is derived from the word negro meaning “black” and the word amaro meaning “bitter”, though the latter parts description isn’t correct, since the warmth of the region leads to quite ripe fruit that has high sugar levels. It is often found in blends with Primitivo (Zinfandel), Montepulciano, Sangiovese, or with other regional Italian grapes. However, with more advanced winemaking techniques, excellent quality varietal wines are being made.
Wines made from Negroamaro have aromas of red and black fruit, and baking spices like cinnamon, allspice, and clove. There are flavors of plum and blackberry, along with a cherry finish. Finer wines made from this grape may have aromas and flavors of coffee, licorice, tobacco, and dark chocolate, as well as some earthiness. Negroamaro wines are usually medium- to full-bodied, with medium-to-high smooth tannins, and medium-to-high acidity.
Our other Italian treasure is Gaglioppo from Calabria, a bit south of Puliga. There are some arguments as to the origins of this grape. Traditional theory is that it is a variety that arrived about the same time as Aglianico did with the ancient Greeks. A more likely scenario is that it is a descendant of Sangiovese and Sicily’s Nerello Mascalese. Within Calabria, there is a smaller DOC region called Ciro. In this DOC there is the well-known city of Magna Graecia, which is the site of a temple dedicated to the veneration of wine. Ciro is filled with extremely tall mountains. There are two things that make this a viable grape growing region. First is the grapes are grown at the top of the mountains where it is cool, and second, harvest is conducted generally just before full ripeness. The diurnal temperature changes have a stop start effect for grape growth. The early harvest ensures vinification doesn’t turn this grape into stew fruit without any structure.
Gaglioppo has flavors of raspberry, red current, clay pot, leather, tobacco. The color is an intense ruby red, with beautiful wine perfumes which will evolve as the wine is giving a little time. The Tenuta Iuzzolini Cio Rossa Classico 2017 was featured as a best buy by Wine Enthusiast.
This Saturday, February 22nd, 2020, City Vino will be featuring four wines from Italy including a Negroamaro, a Gaglioppo, a Primitivo, as well as a Sicilian Grillo wine. Come join us and try some Italian Treasures.