Friday, September 19, 2014

The revivial of susumaniello

I love discovering new grapes and rare ones at that! This week I had the honor of attending the Masciarelli Wine Company's grand portfolio tasting at the Boston Harbor Hotel right on the water. A beautiful event and a great showcase of Italian wines from many regions of Italy. I'll be sharing a variety of wines and grapes with you over the next week or two, but today we're going to start with an indigenous grape to the area of Puglia that was almost extinct, but it's being brought back and largely due to the efforts of Tenute Rubino.
Brindisi Italy
Brindisi in Puglia

What is Susumaniello?
If I said the word susumaniello to you how many people would know what that means? It's actually the name of a grape indigenous to the area of Brindisi in Salento, Puglia. Puglia is a region located on the southern heel of the boot.  Ivan, the Export Manager, explained to me that “susu” means go and “maniello” meaning donkey. Go donkey! Being dialect I wasn't familiar with what either of those words meant. That's what I find so interesting in Italy how people from different regions have a hard time understanding one another. Donkeys are obviously used to carry lots of weight and with this grape being a very productive wine in it's youth the vines must carry the burden of holding these abundance of grapes on the vine.

Susumaniello is a very small blackish grape with thick skin that produces red and rose wines. A lot of times it's used as a blending grape, but the wine I sampled was 100% susumaniello, which I always appreciate more being able to explore its true characteristics.

Tenute Rubino Oltreme SusumanielloWine tasting of Susumaniello
I sampled the 2012 Tenute Rubino Oltreme Susumaniello from Salento. This wine is aged in stainless steel only. This wine was balanced with soft tannins and on the nose and palette blueberries stood out to me the most along with some plum. Tenute Rubino originally started with 94 acres (38 hectares) of vineyards planted with this grape and now currently have 47 acres (19 hectares) through its revival process.

Pairings with Susumaniello
Tenute Rubino recommends pairing this with “savory dishes such as stuffed aubergines and peppers, orecchiette with tomato sauce, risotto with porcini mushrooms. It pairs well with cold cuts, semi-cured cheeses and grilled meats.”

I'm all about supporting anything going extinct whether it's animals (yes I've adopted elephants and rhinos after my African safari) or wine. Get out there and find yourself a susumaniello and support ancient history!

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