Published by Sally on January 31, 2012

Jaddico vineyard, Brindisi

Jaddico vineyard, Brindisi

I came across this black grape variety for the first time during a visit to Puglia in November 2011. Luigi Rubino, of Tenute Rubino, is growing it in near sea level vineyards, 200 metres from the coast at Brindisi.  The vines were planted in the 1930s and in 2000.  He explained “it was a grape variety that was disappearing, because it has a very low yield per hectare and a not very high level of alcohol.  In the past grapes were sold to co-operatives” who paid on weight and potential alcohol (sugar), so it was never to be a huge hit with growers.  Now that trends are changing to better quality, susumaniello is back on the agenda and a handful of producers around Brindisi are working with it.

Apparently, it’s named after the black donkeys that were used to carry baskets of grapes.  Rubino reckons there are about 80 hectares of it planted in the whole of Italy, all of them in Salento.  He’s got ten of them.  And he said the law has changed recently, so from the 2011 vintage he’ll be able to use ‘susumaniello’ on the label.

My first taste of the variety:
Tenute Rubino, Torre Testa 2007, IGT Salento
This one is 100% susumaniello. It was fermented in stainless steel then went to barrique for about a year, and it’s had about 12 months’ bottle age.  Deeply, darkly coloured, with spicy aromas of whole black peppers and dark chocolate.  The texture is smooth and silkily-lifte, really attractive mouthfeel and balance amid dark, almost meaty berried and soft plum fruits, and with elegant lines keeping it all really tasty.  Not cheap though, this one retails in Italy at about Euros 30.

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