Tormaresca, Neprica 2006

My roommate Nate has been buying a lot of wine lately. Yes, two bottles is a lot compared to the other liquids he buys. And by liquid I mean soda. Right. Nate’s inclination to the vine has inspired me to jump back into the proverbial vineyard from which I left for some time due to powers outside my control – it’s a long story. Picking a wine to revive my wine palate was tough, but I wanted to choose a wine I haven’t tasted before. I don’t want my palate to get lazy!

I am embarrassed to say I haven’t tasted many Italian wines. I usually go with areas like Chile, Germany, California, Oregon or New York. This particular Italian wine, a Neprica made by the Tormaresca winery estate in the Puglia region (the heel of Italy’s boot), is a blend of 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. I am blind tasting the Negroamaro and Primitivo varieties, but I know the Cab Sauv fairly well – at least what its basic flavors and aromas are. The Neprica is an example of a very fine blend of grapes, taking away the tannic compulsiveness of the Cab Sauv and smoothing it out. But in order to generalize I would need to try more Nepricas!

Before I say anything about my experience of this wine, I need to say that this wine should have some time to breathe. Aside from being embarrassed about not tasting many Italian wines, I am also growing red in the face because I’ve never decanted any wine I’ve tried. I know, scandalous. “You need to buy one!” Yes, I can hear you screaming into the monitor. I’ll get right on that. My lack of decanting aside, this wine really needs a decanter. Nate and I tasted it after letting it breathe for about ten minutes, and the aroma and taste were overwhelmingly strong. It probably needs a few good hours of breathing room.

Tormaresca’s website is quite pleasant; I highly encourage a look through (I had some problems with the Flash loading properly, but otherwise it works fine). As I was looking through their site, enjoying my bagel and coffee at the local Panera Bread, I heard these bird noises like sparrows and cardinals that seemed to come from the trees outside. I was quite at peace, hot coffee to soothe my caffeine addiction, birds flitting about…wait. The windows aren’t open. Ha! The Tormaresca estate has apparently caged a few birds and put their songs on livefeed for their site. OK, not really, it’s a simple recording. But a boy can dream can’t he?

The estate’s website can be described as, well, Italian. Looking at their History page: “The first evidence of the presence of man in Puglia go back to 3000 B.C.” That’s Italian for, “We’ve been here longer than anyone else on Earth! You gotta problem with that?” I kid, I kid. It does speak to the richness and the Old Worldliness of this wine and its maker, though.

As I said before, this wine is composed mostly of the Negroamaro grape, with the Primitivo and Cab Sauv grapes bringing up the rear. The aroma is powerfully strong, giving hints that it’s been aged for a couple years with metallic, olive and green pepper on the nose. Imagine taking a freshly cut piece of steel and dipping it in a barrel of slices olives and green peppers. That’s the smell I get. Kind of odd, honestly, but very unique. I’m not a big fan of metallic, rusty wines like this one seemed to be, so I was a bit offset by it. It very well could have been the steel barrels in which the wine was fermenting for 15 months, but who knows.

According to my roommate Nate, the taste is like going to the toilet, taking a nice big glass from the bowl and swigging it down. Not the most appealing image of drinking wine. It does have a bit of a manure flavor to it, but its strongest flavors to me are iron, rust, licorice, dirt, black pepper and green bell pepper. Those of you who like sweet wines? (You know who you are!) You will not like this wine. Guaranteed. Those who like some variety, the subtle notes of earthiness in their wine? You will probably fall in love with it and buy a case. The tannins, soft and medium, are not overpowering at all. It has a moderate intensity when you get used to the taste.

Overall, not a bad wine at all. I would need to drink this wine with a salty, Italian dish…maybe pasta with anchovies and green olives? Actually that sounds like a perfect pairing. Or while listening to classical or baroque music. Nate really wanted to brush his teeth after tasting this Neprica – just don’t do what this guy did with his leftover toothpaste.

Score: 85

Price: $9.99


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