I once again bring you a review of a wine from the guys at WineChateau.com, they send me a bottle every few months to share with you, this time it's the 2008 Feudo di Santa Croce Malnera Negro Amaro Salento. Wow that is in fact a mouthful but we can break down that bevy of words to make it more understandable. The first few words "Feudo di Santa Croce" indicate the winery, "Malnera" is this wine, the word "Negro Amaro" refers to (one of the) the grapes in this wine, and "Salento" is the region in southern Italy where Feudo di Santa Croce is located.
The Feudo di Santa Croce Malnera Negro Amaro Salento (sticking with that long name for just a few more sentences, bear with me) is a blend comprising 80% Negro Amaro and 20% Malvasia Nera, two obscure (to us in the USA) varietals that go back thousands of years. Indeed, Italian wine-making goes back more than two thousand years and within that peninsula are over one thousand different varietals. If you ever want to become a memeber of the Wine Century Club and taste over 100 different grapes, Italy is a great place to start.
Next, a little bit about WineChateau.com, an online retailer located in New Jersey. If you buy wine online, you gotta check out their site and browse the listings, not only is the pricing good, but the selection of cool stuff is wonderful as well. For a wine geek, it's a place to spend a nice chunk of your afternoon checking out small, boutique producers. My point of contact is Al, a nice guy with a passion for wine, contact him via the site with any questions you might have.
I like this label. It's elegant and ever-so Italian.
Some of the nitty-gritty: 14.0% alchol, $14.97 per bottle on WineChateau.com, cork closure.
The 2008 Malnera pours a beautiful dark semi-opaque purple, reminding me a little bit of some of the petite sirahs I've tasted this year. Whenever I see color this deep and dark, I immediately start to get the idea that the wine will be young and full of flavor. Part of wine training though is remembering to evaluate the color without making gross assumptions about taste and texture.
Aromatically the Feudo di Santa Croce Malnera Negro Amaro Salento is all about dust, cherry, balsamic and black olive. Magnificent! There's some oak meandering through the bouquet, along with a touch of brettanomyces (the good kind). When I smell the 2008 Malnera, it's got an "Old World" thing going, distinctly different than California or Australia, like a sense of history about it. These lands were being farmed for grapes before there was ever even an Italy, I think that shows through.
Finally after an hour of open time, I got to taste the 2008 Feudo di Santa Croce, and I was grinning from ear to ear afterwards. It starts wonderfully smooth, building some spice that turns into ripe black fruit like plums and black cherry. A good dose of acidity cleans up the flavor profile, creating this linear progression of tastes over my palate while acting as a foil to the bit of funk and earth I was also picking up. Medium weight over the entire profile and balanced very nicely. I wrote in my notes that this wine is "incredibly food-friendly, Italy manages to nail it once again, loving the dry earth through the mid-palate". A supple finish contiues the theme of an accessible, fun Italian red wine.
2008 was good to Feudo di Santa Croce and their Malnera, this stuff, at $15 is a no-brainer and a B (STRONG BUY) from me. If you're looking for a wine that is at once somewhat obscure yet incredibly fun to drink and versatile to pair with food, this is it. What a gem! Buy six bottles at WineChateau.com, buy twelve, share it with all your friends from wine-geek to causal-sipper and watch their faces light up!
This was a media sample for review purposes.