We continue with Puglia: After tasting Nero di Troia at Cefalicchio, we bundled into our van and drove to Conti Spagnoletti Zeuli, a fairly large estate with 400 hectares, mostly planted to olive groves (and a very modern press was rumbling when we arrived), though there are vineyards up on the hillsides. The Masseria is rambling, and after a quick walk through the 17th century cellars, which are quite impressive in a dark and shadowy way, we settled into the tasting room and sampled the wines.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Jody Murgia IGT 2008
This is a Fiano, named after a beloved dog (they have many, and an ample doghouse as well), who appears on the label. The wine is brilliant brassy yellow with gold reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with floral accents mingled with hints of bubble gum and some spice. On the palate it's fairly rich, with moderately intense minerality and spice supported by hints of (again) bubble gum, which flow into a rather mild finish. It's approachable, but not as tight as I might have liked; while it will be something one could sip by the glass in occasions where the wine is not the center of attention, I found myself wishing it were more bracing. The 2009, taken from the tank, was more interesting, with gunflint minerality on the nose and more acidity on the palate.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Mezzana Castel del Momte Rosato 2008
Elegant pomegranate red with brilliant reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with red berry fruit supported by spice and hints of bubblegum, and supported by slightly greenish acidity. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich cherry raspberry fruit supported by fairly bright acidity, while there is also some residual sugar and there are tannins that have a slight burr to them. It's not quite as fresh as it likely was a few months ago, but will work well with cold cuts and similar even now.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Vigna Grande Castel Del Monte 2006
This is Uva di Troia in Purezza, and is fermented in steel. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with violet rim and black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry plum fruit laced with floral accents and hints of graphite bitterness and hints of animal hair. Quite a bit going on, in a vibrantly fresh key. On the palate it's full, with chewy cherry fruit supported by bitter graphite acidity and smooth sweet tannins that again have a dusky bitter graphite shaving matrix, and flow into a brooding cherry plum finish. It's a wine of considerable character that will work well with succulent grilled meats or light roasts, and has quite a bit to say. Very pleasant, and also not at all overripe. In short, refreshing and pleasant.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Il Rinzacco Castel Del Monte 2006
This is again Nero di Troia, but fermented in upright wooden casks. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant, with bright slightly jammy berry fruit supported by strawberry acidity and some floral accents; the wood isn't evident, though one would note its absence, by way of counter I found the jammy accents pleasant, On the palate it's full, and rich, with powerful cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a warm smooth cedary overlay that gives way to a burr with time. It's considerably younger than the Vigna Grande, but is cut from the same cloth, and is pleasant. If anything, the Rinzacco is a little more approachable form an international standpoint, with tannins that display more polish. If you're traditionally minded you will prefer the Vigna Grande, but if you're more used to smoother fruit driven wines the Rinzacco will win you over to Nero di Troia.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Pezza La Ruca Castel del Monte DOC 2006
This is a 50-50 blend of Nero di Troia and Montepulciano; it's lively pigeon blood ruby with purple reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with jammy red berry fruit laced with plums and some spice; the fruit is quite ripe, but was still developing when we tasted it. It also comes across as a touch sweet. On the palate it's ample, and fairly sweet, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and moderate acidity that flow into a clean fairly sweet cherry plum finish. There are some residual sugars, or so it seems, and if you like your reds bone dry it won't work as well for you. On the other hand, if a touch of sweetness doesn't bother you, it's pleasant in a rather international fruit driven key. Because of its sweetness I would drink it with drier meats.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Ghiandara Castel del Monte DOC 2005
This is an Aglianico; it's impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with wet leafy underbrush and smoky acidity supported by iodine and wood smoke; there's not much fruit. But it is nicely balanced. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit that gains direction from wet leaf bitterness, and is supported by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight cedary overlay and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's rather graceful, and will work quite well with red meats or hearty stews, and also has the capacity to age well for 3-5 years. Quite nice, and will go quickly at the table.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli Terranera Castel del Monte DOC Rosso Riserva 2005
This is a blend of 40% Nero di Troia, 40% Montepulciano, and 20% Aglianico. It's impenetrable pyrope with purple rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is rich, with cherry and plum fruit mingled with spice and wood smoke with some bitterness as well. Quite approachable. On the palate it's it's ample and smooth, with fairly rich plum fruit supported by moderate smoky acidity, and by tannins that have a smoky bitter overlay and flow into a clean rather bitter smoky finish. It's approachable, but not as well defined as some of the others, and is not a wine that invites (at least for me) much thought as I sip and swish. In other words, it's a wine to set out and enjoy rather than devote considerable time to thinking over.
Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli La Chicca Moscato di Trani DOC 2005
Brassy apricot yellow with golden reflections. The bouquet is powerful, with bright sweet apricot fruit supported by clover honey, citrus, and some herbal accents, in particular sage. Quite nice to sniff, because it's sweet but not cloying. On the palate it's full and rich, with elegant apricot fruit that manages to combine brown sugar sweetness with green apricot skin bitterness, which keeps the wine on its toes and interesting. Pleasant, and though one often hears sweet wine should be drunk with sweets, I would be more tempted to serve it with moderately aged cheeses.
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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Between Here And There - I took this shot during the Pelleginaggio Artusiano in the spring of 2011. The mirror is somewhere between Castrocaro Terme and Portico di Romagna (on the ro...
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