Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nero di Troia – A Great Wine You’ve Likely Never Heard Of

( Donato Antonio Giullani pouring his Cantine Teanum wines for the audience. )

I attended both the Wines & Cheeses of Puglia and the #RWTastingCrew last night at WGBH. These events were part of a thrust to promote wines from Puglia in the states and determine the interest that might exist for bringing them here, some for the first time. I am going to write more about the events in an upcoming post, but I couldn’t wait to share my experience with the still very unknown style of wine, Nero di Troia.

This grape and the wine made from it only come from Puglia on the Southeastern tip of the Italian peninsula. From the private conversation a group of us had with several of the winemakers (thank you Cathy!) I learned that the grape was brought to the region by the Greeks 2500 years ago and is only grown and vinified by about 20 producers. It is a late harvesting grape sometimes into early October. This is considered one of the keys to the wine’s more fruit forwardness. It was noted by multiple winemakers that Nero di Troia is a hard grape to work with both in the vineyard and during fermentation, especially when it comes to extraction. My understanding is that a mere difference of day of skin contact when making wines with this grape can add considerable aging needs to soften the tannins.

There were 3 selections of Nero di Troia to sample all of which I highly recommend. They were all different in subtle ways, providing a nice survey of what the wine can be.

Masseria Celentana – Querciagrande

This was my favorite of the three. I immediately picked up cherry, chocolate and a little smoke. The color was much deeper on this one and the spiciness was a bit lower. I could see pairing this with every grilled piece of beef I put on the grill all summer! I got to taste it with fresh cheese and found very worthy partners. The clean, simple flavors in the cheese were stuck right up against the wine which has considerable heft.

Casaltranita – Nero di Troia

This one drew aspects from the others into a nice balance. Great fruit (red berries), chocolate and some smoke were easily detected. I got twinges of balsamic vinegar (it was on the wine specs so it stuck in my head) and hints of dried fruits more in this one than the others. I started thinking about beef with blue cheese and a red wine reduction on it.

Cantine Teanum – Nero di Troia

The first thing that thought of when I tasted this wine was the spiciness in Shiraz. I hadn’t expected them from an Italian wine and I found it well fitting. I picked up cherry & red berry flavors, something dusty and acidic (graphite?) with a good deal of concentration and moderate tannins. The finish was medium to long and clean. Is it dinner time yet? A nice steak and a bottle of this wine sounds fantastic.

( Alberto Longo talking about the Masseria Celentano wines. )

I feel like these wines will continue to be best coming from small producers with good, but not stratospheric distribution so its charms aren’t diluted by excessive demand. I definitely want to have them, the fact that I can’t in the US yet is no fun, and look forward to getting some and trying some of the food pairings that came to mind.

I look forward to taking another stroll through my notes and recollections of the wines (including the whites, additional reds and the Gravisano Passita dessert wine), cheese making demo and great conversations from the events to share more of Puglia with you again soon.




David Remillard said...

Excellent recap/reporting of the event. Loved the Nero di troia also and hopefully we will carry it in the very near future! Enjoy Santa Barbara!!

Brian Knowles said...

I think I had dreams of this wine last night. I can't wait to pair this with a steak hot off the grill! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.