We start the count down to Cantine Aperte 2017 with a review of the first of the cantina that we will be visiting on our fully inclusive tour.
Situated in the countryside just outside Cellino San Marco, Masseria Li Veli was purpose built as a winery in the mid/late nineteenth century. After being abandoned for many years, it was bought in 1999 and renovated by the Falvo family. One of their objectives was to rediscover some of Puglia’s ancient grape varieties – some of which had almost disappeared less than 40 years ago.
We booked in on their tour, tasting and lunch package – which I can highly recommend. Our host for the day was the fantastic Chiara, who guided us around the cellars, production facilities and vineyard and provided us with a wealth of information. I was particularly interested in the “settonce” planting layout based on an old Roman military formation (wine and history – what a brilliant combination!).
After the tour, we adjourned to the dining room and were treated to a delicious three course lunch that embodied everything that I love about Puglian cuisine – simple, local, seasonal ingredients prepared with skill and love. Every plate (and there were lots of them!) was delicious – although I have to say that the peppers and the cauliflower pettole were particularly good.
Over lunch we tasted some of the winery’s fantastic wines from their “Askos” (Greek for wine jar – an acknowledgement of Puglia’s long history of wine making) range. First up was the Verdeca (from vines in the Itria Valley) which was a huge surprise to me. I’m not a big white wine person but this was excellent – the plentiful citrus / grapefruit aromas were matched by the fruity flavours and a nice little acidic bite in the aftertaste. Chiara said that it was a wine best served with food – but I’d be quite happy with a few glasses of this by the pool on a summer’s afternoon! It’s very rare indeed that I rate a white wine higher than 80 points so hats off to everyone involved for achieving that!
We then moved onto the reds. First up was the Susumaniello which had an enticing red berry and slightly smokey aroma with a smooth cherry and raspberry taste. This was very popular with a number of our party – particularly amongst those who generally prefer white wines. This was followed by the Primitivo which had a big, intense aroma that was matched by the big flavours that pack your mouth when tasting. A really fantastic wine which is now high up my list of favourites. I thought that would be tough to beat – but our final red wine of the tasting did just that. The “MLV” is a blend of roughly 70% negroamaro and 30% cabernet sauvignon which delivers a delicious blend of dark fruits, spice and tobacco. My tasting notes were brief and to the point “Wow! Seriously delish!!” and it smashed through my 90 point barrier. I will most definitely be drinking again very soon! We completed our tasting with the Aliatico dessert wine which, with its dried apricot aroma and taste, was perfectly paired with our delicious homemade cake. However, I have to confess that my mind and taste buds were still full of the MLV!
Overall this was a fantastic trip and my thanks go out to everyone involved for making us all feel so welcome (including the two dogs who kept my daughters entertained!). Highly recommended both in terms of the visit and the wine. I am already looking forward to returning next month as part of our Cantine Aperte tour and am sure that you will love the wines, the history and the welcoming atmosphere.
Contact us to reserve your place for Sunday 28th May!