Taking a chance on a new wine – not to mention a new grape varietal – can be a risky move. It isn’t something you’d want to do, for instance, when hosting a dinner for your new boss. Under the right circumstances, though, it can be a very rewarding experience. This time around I grabbed a red blend from Italy with two varietals I didn’t know. The Epicuro Vendemmia Salice Salentino 2011 is made from 80% Negro Amaro and 20% Malvasia Negra. For me, the adventure of a new wine experience is a reward in itself made even better when the wine is decent.
Varietal: Red Blend
Appellation: Salice Salentino DOC, Italy
Price: $5.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: The color of this Italian vino was a dark garnet. The bouquet was a surpising group of aromas – major notes of turpentine and tar with underlying dark berries and hints of green herbs. It was a medium-weight selection with a nice, light viscosity. Acidity was good. Tannins were medium with a quick onset or “grab” (others call it grip). Alcohol was at 13%. I have to admit that the bouquet had me worried a bit. I thought maybe I’d end up tasting mostly turpentine. Happily, that wasn’t the case at all. Flavors were primarily sweet dark cherry drops, dried green herbs, and pinches of salt. The tannins brought a bitter woody flavor after which the long finish echoed cherry drops and saline notes. Overall, it was an interesting glass of wine in the good sense of the word.