2004 Castel di Salve Armecolo Salento Rosso

Castel di Salve Armecolo Salento Rosso The Castel di Salve winery was established in the late 1980s, when two friends, Francesco Marra and Francesco Winspeare, completed their degrees in enology and set out to "breathe some fresh air into Pugliese winemaking and to make wine together for a long time." They started by bottling small quantities of wine from their families' estates in Salento; and then in 1992, Marra and Winspeare undertook the task of rehabilitating an abandoned 19th-century winery in Lecce and transforming it into a state-of-the-art facility that permits cold-maceration and temperature-controlled fermentation.

Salento lies on the southern half of Puglia, the peninsula that stretches between the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the easternmost point of the country. This strip of land forms the "heel" of the Italian "boot." Though hot, it is relatively temperate thanks to stabilizing effects of the sea currents and the cooling breezes that waft across the Adriatic from the Balkans.

Salento's traditional wines are the powerful, inky reds from Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Malvasia Nera. Marra and Winspeare observed that Pugliese winemakers had undermined themselves--not to mention the region's reputation--by overproducing vast amounts of generic, "industrial" wines that obliterated the character of these underappreciated local varieties. They decided to correct this trend and make superior wine by implementing the techniques they'd just learned in school. On one hand, they densely replanted much of their 110 acres of vineyards with superior clones of the local varieties; and on the other hand, they improved the quality of their harvest by drastically reducing their yields.

The 2004 growing season was an excellent one and it witnessed the maturation of recently planted Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Malvasia Nera di Lecce vines. Marra and Winspeare believe that this was their best vintage on record.

Armecolo's composition is exactly that of Salice Salentino: 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce. This is a wine meant to be consumed early. It has a rich, aromatic bouquet of fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry, and raspberry) sweetened with hawthorn. The palate is characterized by its light, fresh acidity and crisp finish. Drink now-2008.