The other day I was praising the excellent 2001 Felline Primativo di Manduria that comes from the Salento Peninsular. That wine is 100% Primativo, which is a great variety, but not responsible for most wines from those parts. So whilst on the subject of lovely wines from heel of Italy I thought I should talk about the most common red variety from down there, Negroamaro, a local grape variety that's not really found anywhere else.
The wines it's responsible for are from a few towns right down in the bottom of the peninsular, notably Salice Salentino and Copertino, with the Negroamaro typically blended with about 20% Malvasia Nera. These are probably the most typical of all Southern Italian reds, with slightly bitter black cherry fruit flavours, a big personality and a rasping acidity from the Negroamaro, softened slightly by the easier going Malvasia Nera. These wines are generally great value although there are some premium and super-premium examples around. They're really worth trying and make a great midweek red to have with your pasta, especially if dressed with a tomato sauce. Most supermarkets will have at least one example, typically for around £5 to £8 tops.
Last week I had my penultimate bottle of 2004 Copertino Eloquenzia from the excellent producer Masseria Monaci. Fortunately I've got a case of the 2006 for when the 2004 runs out. Both were excellent years across Italy with Puglia being no exception. I've had the wine many times both in the Salento Peninsular and also here at home in London, costing around £6.50 from the Wine Society. It's a lovely, sappy, refreshing and slightly bitter wine sold with a decent amount of bottle age; the 2006 is spot-on now. It's a terrific everyday wine that's perfect with a slightly spicy rich pasta sauce. Yum.