Italy, a country with over 1,000 indigenous grapes varieties, really rewards the explorer. Tucked away amidst mountains, olive groves and rugged hillsides, there are small vineyard plots still waiting to be discovered – and quality-obsessed winemaker Mario Ercolino has made it his mission to find them.
When he stumbled across a small parcel of gnarled, old bush vines deep in Puglia's rolling countryside, Mario knew he had come across something special. So, he tracked down the owner and convinced him to let him coax the vines back into production, calling this special vineyard “Somaro” after the local breed of donkey that originally worked the land.
This smooth, sumptuous blend of Aglianico and Primitivo – two of Southern Italy’s best-loved grapes – is the stunning result. Aglianico (70%) provides firm structure, touches of mineral notes and deep color, while Primitivo lends juicy blackberry fruit. Six months of fine-oak aging rounds out the fruit-rich palate, with subtle notes of vanilla and leather.
Decanter rated the inaugural 2011 vintage 92 Points: "The fragrant, rich, inviting nose is all about bramble fruits, while in the mouth there is plenty of dark, sweetly spiced fruit, with good structure and a juicy, glossy finish," judges said. Mario's 2012 won silver in Berlin – and this 2015 might be his best yet. It's the perfect partner for a long, leisurely meal. Our favorite pairings include roast beef, spicy pasta and full-flavored cheeses.