Leone de Castris, Rosso Riserva, DOC Salice Salentino, Lecce, Puglia, Italy, 2014
A black variety, cultivated almost exclusively in Puglia. Wines are generally deeply hued (negro), with balancing acidity – which can be challenging to preserve , soft ripe medium tannins, and medium (+) to high alcohol, with a velvety mouthfeel. There is said to be a slight pleasant bitterness (amaro) on the back of the palate. For what it’s worth, the earlier dissection and translation of negroamaro, is suggested to be, negro = Latin for black, and amaro = Greek for black, so twice black .
Negroamaro is notably successful as a pink wine. As a red, it is commonly blended for structure, subject to a majority negroamaro content, with malvasia nera, montepulciano, primitivo (aka zinfandel), or sangiovese. They can age quite rapidly .
A wide range of styles is possible, depending on picking time  – for a big darkly hued wine with high alcohol, wait until late October, such wines are typically used in blending; for even more weight and richness the grapes could be dried off the vine for a few weeks; but for a more elegant balanced wine, yield will be halved, and picked earlier.
The sensory profile commonly includes black berry, black cherry, blackcurrant, cedar, chocolate, cinnamon, herbs, leather and plum. Wines can seem quite jammy, with a wealth of Australian-style sweet fruit . With age, notes of coffee, prune and tobacco can develop .
This wine: lot No. L.089/17/1, a negroamaro dominated blend (a rosso riserva requires minima of 85% negroamaro, and 24 months ageing, of which 6 in barrel), coated natural cork closure, 13.5% abv, Delilah Fine Foods, £18 (11/17)
Consumer tasting note: ruby hued, with aromas of red plum juice, touches of mint and dark chocolate, then rich ripe black cherry, black berry and blackcurrant; medium-full bodied, ripe moderate tannins and flavours of black berries again, with a creamy-lactic nuance, defrosted or cold stewed strawberry and a touch of spice. Finishes medium. Can decant for 45 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity ruby, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of red plum juice, whiffs of mint and dark chocolate, hint of struck match, spicy red cherry jam, low-key toast, bees-wax, touch of black cherry, undertone of sweet oak, black berry with an edge of blackcurrant, a distant hint of black liquorice.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, ripe medium tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture with a sensation of a soft sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of black berry, richer black cherry edged quite clearly with black currant juice, a creamy lactic nuance, defrosted red strawberry, an undertone of oak, with a touch of vanilla-cinnamon. A medium length with a clean black berried finish.
Quality: good, just balanced acidity and soft ripe tannins with alcohol, altogether suiting the ripe flavour intensity; a sound intensity throughout with a slightly lesser concentration; showing some complexity from time in wood and bottle, with a little tertiary development of cooked fruit, chocolate and bees-wax. Finishes medium, quite abruptly.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing but will keep for 1-2 years – a sound structure, with acidity I feel on the edge, but in any event intensity, concentration and length suggest it is will not improve with further cellaring.
- Robinson, J., et al. (2012). Wine Grapes. Allen Lane.
- Belfrage, N. (2003). Brunello to Zibibbo. Mitchell Beazley.
- Easton, S. Negroamaro. [online] accessed 08/04/18.