Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Angiuli Donato: Eye-Opening Wines from Gioa Del Colle and the Val D'Itria

Donato Angiuli is a small winemaker located in Gioia del Colle that we missed in the course of our trip to Puglia this fall, because he doesn't like to present his wines at gatherings for the general public. Considering that many of these gatherings draw a great many people more interested in drinking than tasting, I can understand him.

However, I'm quite happy that Enzo Scivetti introduced him to me at Vinitaly, because the wines were a revelation. Truth be told, Enzo took me to see him because of a white, rather than the reds that are the mainstay of production: Though the winery is located in Gioa Del Colle, they also have some vineyards in the Valle D'Itria, home to some of Puglia's finest white wines, and in addition to making a Verdeca, are reviving an almost forgotten grape called Maruggio, which they are producing in a sparkling version that is -- so far as I know -- unique.

It's sparkling, and though the sparkle is obtained through bottle fermentation it's not obtained by the Metodo Classico. Rather, they ferment the wine almost to completion in tank, and then bottle it, thus capturing the last of the gasses produced by the primary fermentation, and producing the sparkle. The bottles are then disgorged, topped off, and recorked, and that's it.

Sounds odd, but Donato says it's how the farmers of the area used to make a little sparkling wine, and when the university people who are studying Maruggio suggested he make it sparkle, he decided to use the old technique.

Angiuli Donato Maccone Spumante Brut
The wine is pale brassy yellow with fine perlage, and has an interesting bouquet with scents of apple juice and dried apples mingled with savory notes and sea salt. Particular, and brings to mind some of the Pecorino-based sparkling wines of the Abruzzo to mind. On the palate it's full and creamy with considerable minerality and savory accents that flow into a savory finish with, again, oxidized apple. It's very particular and a bit rustic, and is one of those wines that curious wine lovers will greatly enjoy, but that a casual wine drinker who is expecting a conventional sparkling wine will wonder at.
2 stars

Angiuli Donato Verdeca Puglia IGT 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with citric accents and some aged cheesy notes - for want of a better descriptor -- mingled with sea salt and sage. Nice balance and harmony. On the palate it's full, with rather languid brambly white berry fruit supported by clean sour Regina Claudia plum acidity that flows into a clean fairly acidic mineral finish with greenish accents. Quite pleasant in a zesty key and will work well as an aperitif with rich antipasti and finger foods, or with succulent fish.
2 stars

Having tasted the whites, we moved on to the reds. They do make a Gioia del Colle DOC, but concentrate their energies on IGT and table wines, so I started directly with the IGT:

Angiuli Maccone Primitivo Puglia IGT 2007
Impenetrable pyrope with brick rim. The bouquet is intense, with chewy plum fruit and plum acidity supported by gum Arabic and balsam-laced spice. On the palate it's full, sweet, and quite soft, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by warmth and smooth sweet tannins, with underlying moderate plum acidity. It's a touch drier than I expected from the nose, but displays considerable elegance, and is one of those wines I would drink by the glass far from the table rather than with foods. It's particular, and if you like the style, which is quite traditional, you will enjoy it very much, but you have to like the style. Per intenditori, for people familiar with Gioia del Colle's Primitivo.

Angiuli Donato Maccone Rosso Vino Da Tavola
"Ottenuto dalla vinificazione in rosso d'uve nere elevate ad Alberello. Vino non Filtrato," it says on the label, which translates to "Wine obtained by the fermentation in red of black grapes from vines trained in the Alberello (i.e. bush) style. Unfiltered." The wine is from an 80-year old vineyard that yields about a thousand bottles per year. Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with plum fruit supported by alcohol and greenish spice laced with hot iron and jammy sweet accents. I can almost hear Patricia Guy saying "the real deal." Impressive, and one could swish and sniff again and again. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful sweet plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and warmth more than acidity, which flows into a long, long plum prune finish that gradually fades into lasting warmth. Very pleasant, and despite its strength /17% alcohol) is very smooth and eminently drinkable. A most impressive discovery.

Angiuli Maccone Primitivo Dolce Puglia IGT
Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. The bouquet is rich, with plum fruit laced with blueberry jam and some alcohol, and also greenish accents, and menthol, mingled with sweetness and as it opens rich prune jam. Great depth. On the palate it's rich and quite sweet, with plum cherry fruit supported by sweetness and smooth sweet tannins underlain by some warmth. Quite elegant and ahs a lot to say. If you like this sort of naturally sweet red wine -- the sugar content is high enough that fermentation stops before the yeasts can consume them all -- you will enjoy it very much. And if you think you don't like sweet red wines you should try it, because it has a great deal to say. Where to drink it? Either far from the table, or with dark chocolate, or with cheeses, especially moderately intense herbal cheeses.

Contacting the winery: They don't so far as I know, have a site. Their address is:

Via Principe Umberto 27
70010 Adelfia (BA)
Tel 080 459 7130

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