Cantele is one of the estates I visited in the course of my trip to Puglia this fall, and when I came upon their stand after a tasting of Puglian Rosés held this spring at Vinitaly, I was quite happy to taste through their new vintages. To be quite frank, the wines speak for themselves:
Cantele Alticelli Fiano Salento IGT 2009 Pale brassy white wirth brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with clean heather and some candied tropical fruit. Hot vintage key. On the palate it's ample and rather languid, with clean bright tropical fruit, a mixture of mango and some pineapple acidity supported by pineapple acidity that flows into a clean bright finish Pleasant and will be a nice aperitif or with simple fish dishes. 2 stars
Cantele Negroamaro Rosato Salento IGT 2009 Lively rose with brilliant reflections and white rim. The bouquet is moderately intense with berry fruit and some almonds and spice. Still coming together. On the palate it's bright, with clean berry fruit supported by fairly bright acidity and by slightly languid light tannins that flow into a clean bright finish. A pleasant, direct Rosato that will be nice at a cookout or with simple grilled fish or meats. 1 star
Cantele Negroamaro Salento IGT 2008 Deep brick ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is po9werful, with considerable spice mingled with sandalwood and red berry fruit. Fairly aggressive. On the palate it's light, with clean bright berry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean sour slightly bitter finish with some underbrush accents and leathery tannins. Pleasant, and is a fine food wine that will work well with grilled meats or light stews. Expect it to go quickly. 2 star
Cantele Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2007 This is 85-15 Negoramaro-Malvasia Nera blend, and of the 24 months of required aging prior to release, 6 are spent in barriques. Deep cherry ruby with dusky almandine in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with berry fruit mingled with sandalwood spice and some cedar, and also brambly acidity. Nice balance, and very young. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright berry fruit supported by clean brambly acidity and tannins that are a bit splintery, and flow into a clean rather brambly finish. It's not a wine to drink by the glass far from the table, but will work very well with foods, especially simple grilled meats and light stews, and will also be nice with traditional Puglian vegetarian foods, for example fava bean puree with refried greens. Quite versatile, in a food pairing key. Will also age nicely, becoming silky with time. 2 stars
Canteli Alticelli IGT Puglia 2007 This is an Aglianico: Deep brick ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is rich, with clean prune cherry fruit supported by leather and pronounced underbrush and also some spice. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's ample, with bright sour berry fruit supported by leathery tannins and clean mineral acidity that flow into a fairly bright tannic finish with mineral accents and some bitterness. Quite pleasant and will drink well with succulent red meats or light stews, and also will work well with grilled meats. I would expect it to age wel for 5-8 years. Worth seeking out. 88-90
Cantele Teresa Manara IGT Salento 2007 This is a Negroamaro from vineyards pruned in the traditional Alberello, or shrub style. Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is still very young, but reveals some berry fruit supported by sandalwood and spice. A work in progress. On the palate it's full and rich, with elegant slightly sour cherry fruit supported by sandalwood spice and warmth, and by clean berry fruit acidity while the tannins are smooth and sweet, with slight sandalwood accents. Very nice, and when the nose catches up to the palate (a year at least) it will be impressive. And will age well for a decade or more. Worth seeking out to set aside. 88-90
Cantele Amativo Salento IGT 2007 This is a blend of 60% Primitivo and 40% Negroamaro; it's deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is still quite young, with an initial rush of cedar mingled with berry fruit and some acidity. Needs time. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful red berry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean slightly sour berry fruit finish. A nice blend of the two varietals, with Negroamaro conferring acidity and brightness, while the Primitivo confers a rich very pleasant roundness. While both are capable of reaching great heights, the sum is also capable of being greater than the parts, and the wine is extremely pleasant. It will also work very well at table, with grilled meats including fattier cuts such as ribs, or with hearty roasts. It's very young, and needs time, but will work well with foods even now, and will also go quickly at table despite being a substantial wine. The score reflects the present. 2 stars
Last thing: Cantele has a fine blog with much more than wine, and if you read Italian you should check it out. Even if you don't, the pictures are pretty.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.