2019 Masseria Li Veli Askos Verdeca, Valle d’Itria, Puglia, Italy (750 ml)

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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.

We were completely taken by this tasty example of the ancient Verdeca grape. It is tropical, citrus-y, a little spicy, somewhat floral and very minerally - just an all around cool wine that even has a kick of salinity on the crisp finish. It is light to medium-bodied, fresh, clean and very drinkable on its own though it would go well with most anything from the sea.

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