Tenute Rubino, “Oltreme” Susumaniello Salento IGT 2013 (about $14)

Italian Wine for november, 2019

Susumaniello is a little-known, late-ripening red grape variety grown in limited quantities in the lower stretches of the Puglia region, particularly in the Salento area and a few vineyards around Brindisi. While commonly used as a blending wine to provide color and tannins to the blend, a few wineries have been producing and marketing wines made entirely of Susumaniello (soo soo man yehl’ oh) that have sparked interest in the variety and also gathered some very favorable reviews. While still a relative rarity, vineyard plantings of the variety have increased in recent years and wines made entirely of this variety are starting to generate some positive buzz in the Italian wine scene.

The biggest promoter of the Susumaniello variety is Luigi Rubino, owner of the eponymous Tenute Rubino in Brindisi. Tenute Rubino has four vineyard wineries scattered throughout the Salento appellation in southern Puglia and an administrative office in Brindisi. It is a large operation that produces about 1.2 million bottles a year of which approximately three-fourths is exported to various countries world-wide. The estate has an extensive lineup of wines in its portfolio with an emphasis on wines made with traditional varieties of the Salento area such as Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera as well as Susumaniello.

Luigi Rubino’s commitment to the variety is evidenced by the fact that the winery has significantly increased its vineyard acreage allocated to Susumaniello and markets several different Susumaniello wines. Torre Testa is the estate’s most highly regarded Susumaniello label. It is full-bodied, barrique-aged and clocks in with invigorating 16 percent alcohol and bears a price tag north of $40 a bottle – that is, when you can find it.

The 2013 Oltreme Susumaniello from the Rubino winery in PugliaThe Oltremé is Tenute Rubino’s more modest, entry-level bottling of Susumaniello but amply exhibits all the variety’s indelible charm and vitality. Like the Torre Testa, it is made entirely of Susumaniella but the grapes are harvested from younger vines and is not aged in wood as is the Torre Testa.

Tenute Rubino’s 2013 Oltremé Susumaniello Salento IGT is fermented and aged in steel tanks for 10 months and spends 2 additional months in the bottle prior to release and has food-friendly 13 percent alcohol.

It is a fruit-forward, medium-bodied wine with floral and spice aromas and a fresh red fruit flavor profile where notes of cherries, raspberries and ripe plums predominate. It’s a fresh, generous and easy drinking wine balanced by soft tannins and buoyed by a very modest retail price tag.

It’s worth noting that later versions of this wine – specifically, the 2016, 2017 and the 2018 vintages – none of which I have yet tasted, have all received coveted Tre Bicchieri awards from Gambero Rosso.

The 2013 Oltremé is very food-friendly and goes well with a variety of dishes from cold cuts, mushroom risotto and semi-cured cheeses like Manchego and Pecorino Toscano to more savory preparations such as pasta with tomato or meat sauce and cooked or grilled sausages, beef and chicken. It’s best when served a bit cool but not chilled.

 

©Richard Marcis
November 7, 2019

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