I'll be driving down to Puglia shortly for Radici, the presentation of south Italian wines, and it therefore seems quite apropos to post the notes from a vertical of Valle Dell'Asso's Pìromàfo that was held this spring at Vinitaly.
Pìromàfo derives from Pìromàfos, resistant to fire, and refers to the ability of the land upon which the vineyards are planted to resist the summer heat. The wine is a Negroamaro in Purezza, which ferments in steel, spends 12 months in large oak casks, and then returns to steel before going into bottle. Three years between harvest and release.
Valle Dell'Asso Pìromàfo Negroamaro Salento IGT 2000 Pale almandine ruby with orangish rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with warm balsamic accents mingled with sea salt and green leather and some lathered horse; as it opens there's also carob and some tamarind. There's a touch of wildness and heat to it. On the palate it's medium bodied with delicate leathery cherry and forest berry fruit supported by bright sour cherry acidity that has some leathery balsamic accents, and by tannins that are smooth and savory, and flow into a fairly long warm finish with sour berry fruit underpinning and a fair amount of spice from grapes coupled with lasting warmth. It's pleasant, and very much alive; while the nose does reveal its age it has a liveliness to the palate, and will work well with grilled meats or stews. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Pìromàfo Negroamaro Salento IGT 2001 Pale almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with dusky graphite shavings and some underbrush supported by some green leather as well, and some underlying balsamic accents and minerality. Nice balance and clearly mature. The palate is less aggressive than that of the 2000; there's delicate savory raspberry cherry fruit supported by sour raspberry acidity and by tannins that are smooth and sweet, gaining depth from a slight burr and flowing into a clean sour cherry finish with some tannic accents and underbrush as well. It's pleasant, and rather graceful, and not as aggressive as the 2000; the acidity isn't as bright, and this gives it better balance. 88-90
Valle Dell'Asso Pìromàfo Negroamaro Salento IGT 2003 Delicate almandine garnet with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich warm sour cherry fruit supported by chestnut leaf bitterness, Moroccan leather, and sea salt with some black olives as well with some dusty hot earth. On the palate it's medium bodied, with delicate raspberry cherry fruit supported by deft sour cherry acidity that has some chestnut leaf bitterness to it and hints of Moroccan leather, and slows into a long clean sour cherry finish with some bitterness to it. It's quite pleasant, in a graceful key, and will drink very well with grilled meats or light stews. The heat of the summer comes through in the alcohol content, which is a bit higher, but doesn't have any jamminess to it. Rather, it's a touch lighter in terms of concentration. Very much alive, and impressive for a long hot vintage entering middle age. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Pìromàfo Negroamaro Salento IGT 2005 From a magnum Deep black almandine with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is rich, with elegant floral accents and spice supported by balsamic accents and bell pepper jelly, with underlying red berry fruit and some sea salt. Young, and beautiful harmony. On the palate it's ample, smooth, and fairly sweet, with fairly rich raspberry fruit with some prune undertones, and supported by clean minerality and tannins that are pleasantly mineral with some chilled coffee, while the acidity is mineral, and if lows into a clean rather mineral finish with crushed coffee ground bitterness providing support. It's distinct from the older wines, that don't display this sweetness, and is a wine that is more approachable in some ways than the others, which are brasher and brighter. This could be vintage variation; I found it to be perhaps the least interesting of the flight, at least at this phase. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Pìromàfo Negroamaro Salento IGT 2006 This is the current vintage. Elegant almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, and fairly sweet, with spicy berry fruit that has some hot pepper jam and warm spice mingled with red berry fruit and slight green leather, and also pleasant spice. There's something exotic about it. On the palate it's medium bodied, with warm sour berry fruit supported by fairly bright acidity -- brighter than that of the 05, and there's less sweetness -- and by tannins that have a warm peppery burr and flow into a clean bright sour berry fruit finish with considerable warmth and a peppery underpinning and lasting savory minerality. It's pleasant, and more to the style of the 03 and o1 than the 05, which leads me to conclude that the 05's sweetness is vintage related. One could drink it now with grilled or roasted meats, but it will be much better in 2-3 years, and hold for 8-10 years. 2 stars
Havng tasted Pìromàfo, Valle dell'Asso's Other Wines
Valle Dell'Asso Bianco Galatina DOC 2010 Lot 1106 DC This is a Chardonnay, and is pale brassy green with brassy highlights. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some white berry fruit supported by hints of clover and clover honey. On the palate it's fairly full, with bright savory loquat fruit supported by warm sour pineapple acidity and slight slightly greenish tannins that flow into a clean savory finish with underlying loquat acidity. Pleasant, and will drink nicely with simple grilled fish or crustaceans and similar. Expect the bottle to go quickly. 1 star
Valle Dell'Asso Dracma Galatino Bianco DOC 2008 Lot 1000 DC This is again Chardonnay, but barrel fermented. It's a much deeper brassy gold with green highlights and golden reflections. The bouquet is deft, with considerable butterscotch supported by some clover honey and underlying savory minerality. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with moderately intense minerality supported by butterscotch laced mineral acidity, and a creamy buttery mouthfeel, that flows into a clean savory finish. It's quite mineral, with minerality stepping in to carry for acidity, and if you like this you will enjoy it, but you have to like the style. I'd have liked a little more acidity. 1 star
Valle Dell'Asso Galatina Rosato DOC 2010 Lot 1105 D8 This is from Negroamaro; it's pale rose pink with brilliant pink reflections and white rim. The bouquet is muted -- just bottled -- though swishing brings up fresh minerality and some underlying raspberry fruit. Engaging and welcoming in a sunny summer key. On the palate it's fresh, with bright sour raspberry fruit supported by clean minerality and mineral that flows into a fairly bright savory mineral finish. A refreshing wine that will drink well with simple summer foods and also be a nice bicnic or cookout wine. Expect it to go quickly. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Galatina Rosso DOC 2008 Lot 1112 DA This is a bland 70-30 blend of Negroamaro and Primitivo; it's deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with ripe prunes and sweetness from Primitivo combining with brighter acidity and some sandalwood mingled with red berry fruit from the Negroamaro; it's harmonious and pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's full, fairly rich, and smooth, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by some coffee ground bitterness and by smooth sweet tannins that have some dusky overtones, while there is also warm acidity that carries into a long warm finish. It's quite approachable, and will drink well with hearty roasts or stews, and will also age nicely for a few years. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Salice Salantino Rosso DOC 2008 Lot 1025 AS This is a blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera del Lecce, and is pale ruby with orange in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich sour red berry fruit supported by some Moroccan leather and pleasant spice with some lathered horse as well. Nice balance and quite harmonious. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by sour cherry, almost citric acidity and by tannins that are smooth and glancing, and flow into a clean bright sour cherry finish. Quite sunny, and will drink very well with grilled or fried meats and vegetables. If you like the style, which is rather brash, you will enjoy it very much. 88-90
Valle Dell'Asso Negroamaro Salento IGT Rosso Lot 1042 IAB This was their first organic wine, and at the time to differentiate it they bottled it as an IGT rather than an appellation wine. It's fairly deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with herb -- oregano and thyme -- laced red berry fruit supported by some brambly accents and some sea salt. On the palate it's bright, with lively fresh raspberry cherry fruit supported by some red currant acidity and by light smooth tannins that flow into a clean sour cherry finishw ith lasting minerality and sea salt. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with grilled or fried meats, and would be an excellent cookout wine during the summer -- or something to break out when you fire up the grill in the fall. 88-90
Valle Dell'Asso Terra San Giovanni Salento IGT 2008 Lot 1048 IA This is a Primitivo; it's deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the irm. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some sweet prunes mingled with slight balsamic notes and sea salt, and also some Moroccan leather. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with rich savory prune fruit supported by moreate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight splintery burr and flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. It's ample and soft, and will work well with roasts or stews. 1 star
Valle Dell'Asso Negroamaro Galatina DOC 2008 Lot 1042 DAN Lively black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and pungent, with red berry fruit mingled with bitterness and green leather, also some heather and vegetal notes, with underlying savoryness and minerality, and some coffee ground bitterness. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite smooth, with fairy rich ripe red berry fruit supported by sunny berry fruit acidity and tannins that have a slight mineral burr and flow into a clean sour berry fruit finish with lasting savory accents. Pleasant, and will drink very well with grilled meats or light stews, and also has sufficient acidity to nicely balance fried meats and vegetables. Expect the bottle to go quickly. 2 stars
Valle Dell'Asso Il Macàro Salento IGT Lot 1031A This is a passito, from Aleatico and Malvasia Nera, and is made from a blend of several vintages, including 1975. It's Moroccan leather with slightly brownish green rim, and has an elegant bouquet with brown sugar and dates mingled with hints of dried apple and sweetness. Quite pleasant. On the palate it's full and sweet, with fairly rich dried date fruit supported by some prune acidity and fair warmth that flow into a fairly long clean sweet prune date finish that gradually fades into lasting warmth. If you like passiti you will enjoy it; it will work well with cheeses or be nice sipped by itself. 88-90
Valle Dell'Asso Moscato IGT Salento Lot 1050 ICMO This is the second vintage of this; it's lemony gold with brilliant reflections and white rim. The bouquet is rich, with honey and yellow peaches supported by honeydew melon and some clover, with slight greenish notes as well; it's something of a sexpot in the glass. On the palate it's rich and quite sweet, with honeydew melon and loquat fruit supported by considerable sweetness and bright slightly greenish apricot acidity that flows into a long warm finish with underlying sweetness that lasts and lasts. It's quite pleasant, and if you like Moscato you will enjoy it, though it doesn't have the complexity and depth of the Macàro. Rather, a degree of explosiveness. 2 stars
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.