Wine of the month: Negroamaro, intense red wine from Apulia.
Negroamaro is one of Italy’s most ancient wines and the symbol of the Italian region known as Salento.
For those of you who might have never heard of it before, Salento is actually the name of an area of the Apulia region, in the south of Italy, situated right on the heel of Italy’s boot.
Is the most southern point of Italy and a very fascinating area to visit. A place that exudes history, where many different ancient cultures have met over the years: Greeks, Byzantines and Arabs came here, conquered the area, and left their mark on this land, visible especially in the architecture, culture and traditions and of course food and wine, bringing in exotic flavours.
In fact, it is possible that the Greeks indeed were the ones who have brought this plant to Italy, and since then the plant has found its habitat in this arid, barren, and apparently unwelcoming land. On the contrary, this shows the strength of this grape variety, which manages to blossom and grow full of flavour every year, even with little water, though plenty of sun. This is probably the secret behind the intense flavour of the wine that is produced here.
There are two schools of thought on where Negroamaro’s name comes from.
The first option looks at the potential Latin-Greek origin of the name, which seems to employ the use of the word “black” in both languages: “niger” [needger] in Latin and “maru” [ma:roo] in Greek. The other option instead could be a modern translation from the Italian Language itself, where negro means “black” and “amaro” means bitter, referring to the characteristics of this wine.
Variety, characteristics and usage.
The variety presents itself with black grapes or deep ruby-red when young that turns dark red or black according to the different clones. The bouquet is elegant and fresh with aromas of wild cherries, forest fruits, tobacco, Mediterranean vegetation, and liquorice root. Aged in barrels the flavours subsequently develops a different range of flavours which include hints of prunes, black pepper, herbs and juniper.
Negroamaro has only recently started being produced and sold as wine on its own, as in the past it was mainly used to cut or blend other wines such as Malvasia Nera or Susmaniello, or to add character, colour and alcoholic percentage to some wines form the Central and Northern regions of Italy, otherwise slightly bland and anaemic. In recent years, many producers have also started trying combining Negroamaro do another wine from Apulia, Primitivo, in a “marriage” that is resulting to be quite successful. A blend of two wines with character: despite seeming a dangerous combination to try, because both are bold and rich, each wine peculiarities gently compliment the other and create a very unique, complete and bold product.