Wine: Exploring wines from Italy's Puglia region
If we were pairing wines with films, then the dusky, rustic reds of southern Italy's Puglia region (the heel) would feel at home with any of the 'Dollar Trilogy' Westerns that introduced a young Clint Eastwood.
Perhaps the historical connection helps. When there were industrial relations difficulties in Hollywood in the Sixties, the studios in Rome offered a cheaper and more flexible alternative and so the Italian produced Spaghetti Westerns came to be.
Puglia's local grapes are like the actors in those Westerns: restrained, authentic and full of character – albeit of the deep and silent type. Negro Amaro (black and bitter) has a masculine and rustic charm often softened by blending with a little feminine perfume from the Malvasia Nera.
The Primitivo puts the jam in the doughnut and is a ripe fruit bomb of a wine, related to the full-bodied Californian Zinfandel.
Hombre supremo is the tannic Uva/Nero di Troia, reserved, brooding– the Clint of a wine. Its expression is in the "less is more" school of acting. The wines take time for the plot to develop and reveal the full story but are usually worth waiting for.
Wine of the Week: 1) Vereto 2009, Salice Salentino DOP, Agricole Vallone 13pc
Warm terracotta earthy aromas. Silky smooth and velvety texture underpins paprika spicy and mellow dark fruit. Needs a hearty meaty stew. €15.99 at Bradley's, Cork; Florrie's, Tramore; Holland's of Bray and La Touche Wines, Greystones. In Dublin at McCabe's, Blackrock; Baggot Street Wines; Drinkstore; The Vintry; Sweeney's; Jus de Vin; Deveney's, Rathmines; Donnybrook Fair; Blackrock Cellar; Wines on the Green and Red Island Wines, Skerries.
2) Liante 2011,
Castello Monaci, Salice Salentino DOC 13pc
Warmed red fruit aromas. Stewed black prunes cloak the tastebuds and percolate deeply. A full-bodied wine with silky tannins delivering a spicy satisfying finish. Serve with a thick bean stew of smoked bacon, tomatoes and bell peppers. €15 at La Touche Wines, Greystones and Sweeney's, Glasnevin.
3) Triade 2011, Rosso Puglia IGT 13.5pc
An earthy and leather bouquet. Chewy tannins followed by leather and prunes on the palate. A trinity blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Nero di Troia. Experiment with a lamb tagine. €15.95 at Cheers, Delgany; Red Island Wines, Skerries; Baggot Street Wines; Sweeney's, Glasnevin and online at honest2goodness.ie
4) Terre d'Uva 2011, Salice Salentino DOP 13pc
Subtle earthy fruity aromas from the Uva di Troia. Deep layers of intense earthy black stewed fruits. Mouth-watering acidity refreshes through to the finish. Enjoy with a slow roasted brisket of beef rolled around chopped olives and garlic. €15.90 online at winesdirect.ie and Wine Shop, Mullingar and Arnott's, Henry Street, Dublin 1.
Rosé, The Exquisite Collection, Cotes de Provence 12.5pc
Stoney, minerally and warmed strawberry aromas. Truly delicious with restrained rather than austere character. Peach kernel and citrus orange tang. Crisp and light bodied. Match with a platter of pink shellfish drizzled with garlic infused olive oil.
€8.99 at Aldi nationwide