Thursday, August 26, 2021

Grape Spotlight: Brindisi DOC Tenute Rubino Susumaniello

The Brindisi DOC is a sub-region in Puglia that was created in 1979 and dedicated primarily to the production of Negroamaro wines. Yet the regulations also stipulate that Susumaniello can be made as a second red wine with Chardonnay, Malvasia Bianca, Fiano, and Sauvignon Blanc permitted as white grapes. The DOC is an enclave anchored by the city of Brindisi and spreading out from the Adriatic. 

The region is also both hot and dry. No wonder since Apulia is derived from the Latin phrase "a pluvia" translated to "without rain'". The region enjoys 300 sunny days each year with summer afternoon temperatures regularly surpassing 104 Fahrenheit. As a result, the grapes which grow here develop high levels of sugar which leads to a high percentage of alcohol in the wine.  

Susumaniello is grown almost exclusively in the Salice Salento area with much smaller amounts in the Brindisi and Squinzano DOCs and is ranked among the world's rarest wine grapes. DNA evidence shows that it is a natural cross between a Puglian table grape and the white-wine grape Garganega. Its name is derived from "somarello", meaning "donkey" - maybe because the deep ruby color and dark, baked fruit flavors can carry a heavy load?

Tenute Rubino considers itself the "House of Susumaniello" as it helped lead the effort to recover the endangered variety after many Apulian growers were driven to explant their less productive vineyards. In response, Tenute owner Luigi Rubino "chose to stake his company’s fortunes on the rediscovery and promotion of one of Puglia’s most identitarian varieties". Susumaniello is planted in sandy and limestone-rich soil in a 20-hectare single vineyard. This Jaddico estate is located eight kilometres north of Brindisi and resides at sea level directly on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. 

In addition to a few sparkling wines, the primary output for Susumaniello is the Brindisi DOC Rosso Oltremé. This wine is 100% Susumaniello with a dark ruby red complexion and aromas of red berries and cinnamon. On the palate expect dark fruit with rounded tannins and a vibrant mouthfeel. Wish I had brought a bottle home. 

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