2019 Masseria Li Veli Primitivo, 'Orion,' Salento IGT, Puglia, Italy (750ml)

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In 1999, the Falvo family acquired a 128-acre run down property (formerly a working winery) located in the sunny and fertile Salento region on the southeastern peninsula or ‘heel’ of Italy; armed with high ambitions and over 40 years of experience in the wine industry in Tuscany, they set out to rejuvenate the vineyards and cellar. Situated between the Ionic and Adriatic Seas, Salento offers a maritime climate with moderating sea breezes in addition to permeable ‘karstic’ soils that lend roots access to underground water sources even during the driest of summers. The property’s 33 hectares under vine are cultivated in the ancient ‘albarello’ or bush-trained method, allowing the vines optimal sun and wind exposure yet providing an umbrella of vegetation to protect the berries from too much sun. Certified organic since 2005, the vineyards are planted to the region’s principal native varietals including Verdeca and Minutolo for the whites and Negroamaro, Primitvo, Susumaniello, Aleatico and Malvasia Nera for the reds. You’ve probably never heard of some of these ancient varietals, yet the Falvo family is passionate about saving them from extinction; they even highlight single-varietal expressions of these obscure grapes in a line of wines known as ‘Askos’, meaning ‘wine jar’ in Greek (offered in addition to their more classic bottlings like this Primitivo). This 100% Primitivo is one of those wines that is indicative of the place from where it came. The aromatics highlight stewed plums, warm earth, leather and violets, evoking a sundrenched Mediterranean landscape. The medium-full bodied palate is mouth-coating and velvety in texture, offering more of that cooked fruit character including baked cherries and black currants along with notes of star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg. Despite all of these ripe and spicy flavors, there is a fresh streak of acidity running through the mid-palate that lifts the wine, keeping it lively and juicy. This is a crowd-pleasing, lip-smacking, easy drinking wine that would be perfect alongside something meaty like slow cooked pork, Italian-style meatballs or smoked brisket.

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