Saturday, November 10, 2012

Citerna Nero di Troia or Uva di Troia

I love a good deal; a good deal on a suit, a good deal on a flight, or a good deal on a bottle of wine.

I adore a good deal on a great bottle of wine~!!!

Recently I had the good fortune to win an auction for a modestly priced back-vintage of an obscure varietal: Nero di Troia which runs by the pseudonyms Uva di Troia, Uva di Canosa, Uva di Barletta, Uva della Marina, Troiano, Tranese and also Sumarello. A heck of a lot of names for a wine that 20 years ago only had a half-dozen single varietal bottlings. Period.

Well much research has gone into this Puglian grape recently, and the number of single-varietal bottlings has grown to over 80. Certainly, in the grand scheme of Italian wines, this makes it still an obscurity to say the least, but Puglia is taking interest in it's heritage. The Nero di Troia has been planted in "the heel of the boot" for centuries, but has remained a blending varietal for most of that time: this is a grape that tends towards high tannin structure and harvests late in the season. Oh, it has it's benefits as well; (otherwise I doubt it would have lasted) most notably a generous yield and resistance to many diseases, but this was a grape that needed someone to devote some time to it before it would yield it's secrets.

Secrets? Yes... Nero likes it's yields kept low, it needs to ripen fully, and loves a touch of altitude when planted. And it was the professor Luigi Moio of the University of Naples who devoted himself due to the generous benefactors Tenuta Rasciatano. And when the professor opened this door into a new and evolved version of Nero, the winery Tenuta was one of the first to reap the rewards.

Gone was the erstwhile varietal full of over-eager tannins and green herbaceous tones, and in it's place a fresh yet balanced fruit-laden wine brimming with an approachable sense of place. And all for a reasonable price.

Bravo professor~!

2007 Citerna Nero di Troia, Puglia IGT
by Alberto Longo
$10 USD+tax, Tamalpais Wine Agency of Richmond, CA
$25 CAD (not widely available)
89+ points

soil type:    loamy sand texture, mostly calcereous
vines:      single vineyard, family owned'
harvesting:   machine
altitude:    500 metres+
vinification:   cold soak maceration of 10 days usually (kept short to avoid excessive tannins)
maturation:   3 months+ in stainless steel, then 3 months+ in concrete vats, then 3 months+ in bottle
  • visual:   clean; fully intense garnet core (much like Nero D'Avola) with slight bricking to the rim after 5 years
  • nose:   clean; medium+ intense and developed aromas of drying cherries, graphite backbone, bramble fruit, dark flowers... a wine starting to speak of maturity, but in an elegant manner
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ (red and black cherry) acids, moderate+ (chewy, sustained) tannins, moderate+ body, moderate+ to full alcohol (13% ABV), moderate+ intense and developed/ing flavors that mimick the nose; bright red fruit dominate the beginning of this charming table wine, a strong sense of place comes from the mineral/graphite tones that follow, which is summed up by the drying nuances of cherry and floral. Very good structure and balance, moderate length
  • conclusion:   an excellent buy for it's price (in the US), this is still a table wine - just a good one. This can cellar well for up to 5,6 or even 10 years from date of bottling but will start to lose force after 5 or 6.
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:   soft like a Merlot, yet full of vigor like a Malbec, this is a wine I've not experienced before but plan to delve into as often as I can~! When you find a bottle with a few years of age, consider enjoying it on it's own, or with simple charcutterie (cold cuts and cheeses). In it's youth I would pair this with rich beef dishes such as braised oxtail stew or a beef and wild mushroom canneloni... the vivid tannins will appreciate the counter play!

In ancient times it was the hero Diomedes who conquered the legendary city of Troy. He left the smoldering ruins and crossed the (at the time) vast sea to come to hills of Puglia, settling in what became the town of Troia. Some would surmise that he would have carried treasure, and most certainly would have brought food and wine for the voyage. Maybe, just maybe, he also brought a few clippings from local grapevines.

Maybe, and maybe not, but it makes a good story. No matter what the story is behind the history of Nero di Troia, we can be assured that whilst vintners like Alberto Longo are producing quality like this, there will most certainly be a future for it.

You doubt me dear friend? The proof, as always, is in the glass!

Many thanks to wikipedia and Sally Easton, MW at for their research. I look forward to your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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