Despite being relatively easy to prove that the cultivation of vines in the Salento Peninsula goes back over 4000 years, it is however undeniable that in that area (now roughly corresponding to the southernmost part of Puglia) viticulture, as we conceive it today, was something unknown even at the end of the 60s. To give an idea of this situation, just think that the Family Taurino, despite having begun to be interested in viticulture for seven generations, still in the middle of the 20th century sent his bulk wines to the North where, thanks to their breadth and generous taste-olfactory profile, were used to give more body, alcohol and color to indigenous excessively “lights” wines. The turning point came around that time thanks to Cosimo Taurino who, abandoned the profession of pharmacist, took over the reins of the company, convinced that the grapes and wines produced had the potential to be bottled and marketed independently.
It is no coincidence that today Cosimo is considered one of the pioneers, probably the most important, of Salento’s viticulture, this is because in addition to the potential of his wines, Cosimo also realized how it was necessary to start weaving a dense network of public relations, to help potential customers to become aware of the level of wine in that area. Even today, more than 20 years after his departure (1999) Cosimo’s thought is the basis of the success enjoyed by Salento’s winegrowers; a success that has enabled the “new recruits” to conquer increasingly important market segments with fine workmanship wines with an absolutely respectful stylistic mark. Meanwhile, the company that proudly bears the name of Cosimo Taurino is led by his wife Rita and his daughter Rosanna, with her husband Fernando Antonio; three people who manage everything: from vineyards to the winery, from marketing to public relations.
In order to maintain and, where possible, raise the quality level of its wines, the company has recently completed several works of modernization and expansion of the wine making premises, also creating, inside, a modern showroom. Returning to the wine-making area, the most important work concerned fermenters and cement tanks, which were vitrified and equipped with cooling plates, to allow a more precise control of fermentation and aging temperatures. Finally, a particular mention should be made of the barrique cellar, where has been created a system of water cascades, always at controlled temperature, which guarantee ideal humidity and temperature.
In case it was not understood, I have a weakness for the wines of this winery and, in particular for its Patriglione, a Negroamaro Salento IGT which, with its generous elegance, was literally the key that opened the doors of many restaurants and wine shops to the wines of this winery. I have no hesitation in saying that this is an exciting wine, born in 1975 from the intuition of Cosimo and his collaboration with a young wine maker, Severino Garofano, who, after the success of Patriglione, will become the most famous wine maker from Salento, giving life to many other masterpieces.
Returning to us, the wine was born in the town of Guagnano (Lecce) from a vineyard in the plain of 15 hectares, called Patriglione, planted exclusively in Negroamaro, with the traditional alberello technique, at a density of 6000 vines per hectare, from the age of 60 to 70 years. The grapes, whose yield does not exceed 600/700 grams per plant, are harvested in a slight over-ripening in mid-October and, then, brought to the cellar, where they ferment, in vitrified cement, at about 25° C, for about 10/15 days and macerate, under the same conditions, for 8/12 days. The aging, of one year, takes place in barrique (20% new, 30% second passage, 50% third passage) and is followed by bottling, and a subsequent long and uncoded period of rest in glass, because the wine is placed on the market only when the owners consider it “ready”.
I tasted the vintage 2016 at a last year’s December puiblic tasting, and I found it exceptional, so I couldn’t wait to buy and try it again, even if, from that tasting, it had to pass a year. Finally, in November of this year, I found only one online retailer that marketed it and I could proceed with the coveted purchase. A few days ago there was the opportunity to pair it with a baked Sardinian lamb and I did not miss it.
As I remember, the 2016 vintage shows a Ruby color that is not particularly intense, even if rotating the glass you notice its consistency, with an olfactory range that opens on notes of ripe red fruit, such as cooked plum, date, black cherry syrup and carob, followed by tomato paste, wilted red rose petals, aromatic pipe tobacco and Mediterranean scrub, with final barely hginted echoes of delicious oxidation, vanilla and eucalyptus. The palate, even in its amplitude, never strains it, thanks to the slight oxidation (which I think is a desired detail, given the harmony with which it integrates with all the other components), the balsamic side and an extremely elegant tannin; all enriched by the return of red fruit and Mediterranean scrub that accompany the sip to a very long and tasty finish.