In many years of reviewing wine, I don’t think I’ve described a wine as “grapey” more than once or twice. What is it about the word? Does it connote simplicity when good wine is supposed to be complex? Is it reserved for more proletarian grape products such as humble table grapes, grape jelly or grape soda? Perhaps. And yet, for the last two evenings, I’ve been tasting an unusual wine from Italy for which “grapey” immediately springs to mind in a most attractive light.
Savuto is an obscure appellation, or DOC as they call it in Italy, from Calabria in the far south of the country. Calabria makes up the “toe” of Italy and almost touches Sicily, which is separated by just a couple of miles of sea. Since the early 1990s, the Odoardi family has been farming about 170 acres of vines in the Savuto River Valley, right, and has been putting some lesser known indigenous grape varieties back on the map. Odoardi’s 2005 Savuto is a blend of Gaglioppo (45 percent) with lesser amounts of Greco Nero, Nerello Capuccio, Magliocco Canino and Sangiovese. See what I mean about obscure grapes?
The wine, for which I paid $15 in New York, has the aforementioned grapey core but with much more, including notes of black cherry, dark plum, vanilla and a touch of eucalyptus. There is both a bright fruit and candied quality, which may seem like a contradiction but which somehow works in a wine that, at first, suggests something quite simple but that turns out to be surprisingly complex. Alcohol is 14 percent. For al kinds of meats, pastas and pizzas. Imported by Jan D’Amore wines, Brooklyn, New York.