A Bargain Red Perfect with Pasta or Poultry

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I remember a visit to Southern Season by Cosimo Taurino, one of Italy’s best producers of the Puglian red wine, Salice Salentino. Seems we were selling more of his wines than anybody in the American Southeast! The reason was simple; they were excellent, sound, flavorful wines that we were bringing into North Carolina through a consortium providing great prices. Cosimo spoke no English but, of course, that was no problem between us! These distinctive wines have become far better known in the ensuing 30 years. The grape is negroamaro, and it is one of the joys of Italy’s “heel.” One of this region’s finest newer producers is Masseria Li Veli, and it pleased me to taste some of their lineup recently. Salice (which means “willow” in Italian) Salentino shines as perhaps Puglia’s (pronounced: POOL-yah) best red. And, after all these years, there’s one thing Salice Salentino remains, at least in Li Veli’s hands: A bargain!

2016 Salice Salentino “Passamante”, Li Veli  $14 suggested retail price
Beautiful garnet to black cherry in color. It’s exuberantly fragrant and redolent of mountain herbs and spicy greenery with wild cherry, red currant and licorice notes. Strikingly inviting. A fresh, medium-bodied mouth texture ensues with a depth that sneaks up on you. High-toned raspberry, currant and fig elements persist in the flavor with a deftness that is beguiling. The negroamaro grape has a true stamp of individuality. Pair with simple poultry, lentil-based dishes or tomato-based pasta. Drink now-2022.
90/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi

Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.

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