Sunday, August 1, 2010
Negroamaro - the next Syrah?
1. It has a pronounceable name that is descriptive and its meaning can be inferred by most folks with a bit of work that lends an adventurous/exploratory element that some consumers love. It is not as foreign as Aglianico...
2. Negro Amaro is like Syrah in that it has good dark violet color and only moderate tannins (Syrah has a particular tannin-color linking structure that prevents it from ever becoming too tannic and drying). It can be silken or a little chunky, but never astringent. Negro Amaro also tends to be floral and perfumed with that violet flower and touch of high-toned delicate white blooms coming through against a deeper and more musky/rustic background - a lot like Mourvedre and North Rhone Syrah.
3. Like Syrah there can be strong leatheriness that forms the backbone in conjunction with a brambly spice element that evokes the old world (perfect in our lineup) while still being a relatively fruity warm weather grape. It has skank and finesse.
4. Coming from Puglia it is obviously drought tolerant and heat loving without compromising its typicity- yay. (But, it does sunburn, and crop load can be vary with soil type.)
5. Negro Amaro is often blended - the Salice Salentino DOC specifies minimum 85%, and often Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese or Primitivo are added to bump up the fruit/floral quotient. Hopefully this will not be the case in Lake County where we need to actually restrain the fruit bomb character of our wines and try to produce something with actual structure and character. For us, the more bramble the better - we don't need to worry about fruit here.
6. Negro Amaro rosato is known to be very, very good.
Needless to say we are excited to try our hand with this one. Its mix of backward rusticity, delicacy and aromatics should be exciting. Now if we can just get Nero d'Avola to pass quarantine our Southern Italian plantings will be complete. Sorry Calabria, but we don't see Gaglioppo in our future.
(Oh, incidentally, Negro Amaro may be a distant cross between Verdicchio and Sangiovese).