I got into the lusty wines of Apulia while I was living in NYC. It started with Salice Salentino before I found some amazing Copertino, both of which are based on blending Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes. The combination of ripe and stewed fruit aromas with rustic grainy tannins won me over on reds from Italy’s heel.
At some point in the last few years the number of wines simply labeled Negroamaro have increased in number. The name of the grape itself translates into “bitter black” which clues you in that this is not for every palate.
After a couple years hiatus from Apulian reds, I decided to take home a bottle of Monachi Maru Negroamaro 2007. Why this producer? Well I received a kick ass Primitivo from the same producer last year and was impressed enough to remember them this time around.
Aromas of plum, black cherries, tobacco and vanilla made this wine extremely straightforward. It didn’t help that its juiciness and overall smooth feel didn’t leave anything to the imagination. Not a poor wine, but just very California in style.
I expected much more earthy notes and some rusticity on the palate. It feels like this wine is trying to be something other than what it wants to be, but I do think this would be a great stepping stone wine for your Zin or Cab drinkers. Ultimately though someone looking for an Italian wine that wants for those raw and lusty reds from southern Italy might be disappointed with this particular bottle, especially at $14.