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WL Rating: 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Antinori Tormaresca NePriCa 2009


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    The Antinori family has been making wine in Tuscany for over six hundred years and across 26 generations. Consequently, in 1998 when they declared that Puglia was “one of the most promising regions in Italy for the production of high quality wines” and backed up that assertion with a multi-million pound investment in two separate vineyard sites within Puglia, people started to pay attention.

    Most famous for their “Tignanello” Super-Tuscan (the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques, the first modern Tuscan red wine blended with non-traditional varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, and one of the first red wines in Chianti not to use white grapes), the Antinori family have a history dedicated to innovation and their southern venture “Tormaresca” is no exception.

    Tormaresca vineyard holdings take the form of 130 hectares of vines within the Tenuta Bocca di Lupo within the Castel del Monte DOC area, Northern Puglia and 250 hectares of vines in the Masseria Maime estate within Salento (much further south). Indigenous varieties are grown alongside “international” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay using both traditional (“alberello pugliese”) and non-tradition (“head pruned”) vine growing techniques.

    This Tormaresca “Neprica” is an unusual and innovative Puglian offering in that not only are Primitivo and Negroamaro are blended together (which is surprisingly rare given their ubiquity in this part of the world) and in that these local, traditional and indigenous varieties are blended with the “international” grape of Cabernet Sauvignon. Here the blend is 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. This Tormaresca “Neprica” is also unusual in that after picking and initial fermentation, the wine is stored only in steel tanks (8 months) and bottle (a further 4 months) before release – no oak aging is applied.

    A lack of oak aging should mean that this Tormaresca “Neprica” exhibits more pure fruit characteristics (no overt vanilla notes that develop with time in oak) and should be fresher and younger drinking in style than some of its Puglian compatriots. This is probably just as well, given the cork in the bottle – a chipboard, reconstituted style of cork which may not age as well as some non-reconstituted corks. An elegant, high shouldered bottle does make for a pleasingly classy bottle at this price point though.

    In the glass this Tormaresca “Neprica” is really very intense. Deep and dark cherry to prune in colour, the Negroamaro (translates as “bitter black”) component in this wine is immediately obvious. Fading slightly to exhibit flashes of damson at the rim of the glass, the legs of this Tormaresca “Neprica” are moderate at 13.5% in alcohol.

    On the nose, open and expressive aromas of warm Cabernet blackberry lead, with a sweetness lent by hints of figs and raisins supplied by the inclusion of Negroamaro and Primtivo. There is also a hint of cloves and a bitter almond that add complexity to the aromas of this Tormaresca “Neprica”.

    In the mouth, this Tormaresca “Neprica” is mouthfilling, yet medium in style. Soft and mildly sweet brambles and cherry turn more sour and bitter as the Negroamaro comes in along with some Cabernet tannin dryness. Despite having more tannin grip and dryness than most Puglian wines, this Tormaresca “Neprica” is nicely balanced with a streak of acidity matching both the initial sweetness of the fruit and the later bitterness. There is a long length of flavour that remains in your mouth even after swallowing.

    Despite this Tormaresca “Neprica” being a well made wine, that is certainly above average when it comes to the depth and length of flavour on offer, there is no great complexity and nothing that really pushes this “Neprica” into superstar territory. The inclusion of the Cabernet Sauvignon, whilst an innovative and new idea, has essentially neutered the Southern Italian charm of this Tormaresca “Neprica” in the mouth, making it a slightly weightier almost generic “international” style. But for the hints of southern Italy in the form of prunes, figs and cloves that hover around the fringes of the nose (but are not translated into the palate) this wine could be from parts of France or Spain and you wouldn’t necessarily know any different.

    Ultimately a cheap way into an incredibly famous Italian name, ultimately whilst above average, this Tormaresca “Neprica” still in some way disappoints.

    Antinori Tormaresca “Neprica” Puglia IGT (2009)

    Score: 83/100 – Accomplished but unexciting. Puglian character has been partly neutered.

    Value for Money: 6/10 – Cheap way into Antinori wine, but not underpriced for its score.

    Posted by TheIndependentWineReview on September 22nd, 2011 at 7:03pm | report comment

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