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Radici Festival 2012, Puglia

by Tom Cannavan, 06/12

In June 2012 I was fortunate enough to be asked for the third time to join the international tasting panel for the Radici Festival of native grapes, held each year in Puglia, in the 'heel' of Italy. When I first attended in 2009 the festival celebrated the indigenous grape varieties of Puglia, but now in its seventh year it has grown to encompass all of the Italian South, including wines from Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily - but still with the focus firmly on the native grapes of each region.

Radici truly is a celebration of not only the terroirs and varieties of the south, but of food and culture too. Meals concentrate on Slow Food, with the abundant produce of Puglia shown at its best by some passionate and gifted chefs, such as the wonderful A'Crianz in the town of Putignano, where chef Stefano D'Onghia cooks Italian soul food with extraordinary flavours, all using local artisan produce.

juries tasting Radici is also a unique wine competition in that there are two separate juries, working independently, and tasting all of the wines in the competition. One is composed of international 'professionals' - journalists, wine buyers and distributors - the other of 'wine lovers' - highly experienced and passionate Italian aficionados of southern wines. Each jury awards scores and determines prizes independently, so at the culmination of the competition there are two sets of awards - one from the professionals and one from the wine lovers. The recipient wineries seem genuinely delighted to receive an award from either panel, as each represents a valid, but perhaps slightly different approach to the evaluation of the wines. Above, the 2012 competition in progress.

Below are my notes on all the wines that won an awarded in Radici 2012. The list covers the champions and runners-up from each panel, and whilst I was part of the 'professional' panel (a talented and amiable group of tasters representing the UK, USA, Australia, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Italy) I have included my notes for all awarded wines.

falanghina

Falanghina Grape, Campania

Professionals:

Cantine Astroni, Colle Imperatrice Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2011
Lovely zingy aromatics here - loads of pungent, herb-tinged fruit and some lemon rind. On the palate this is deliciously full, with excellent balance of fruit and crisp acidity.

Cantina del Vesuvio, Mariè Falanghina Pompeiano 2011
Not so expressive as some wines here, but nice nutty and apply qualities, with a big sour lemon blast of acidity on the palate.

Terra dei Vuttari, Nummus Falanghina Beneventano 2011
Joint runner-up. Sherbetty, bright stuff this, with a bit of tanky, cold ferment aroma, but juicy and appealing. Juicy on the palate too, with good fruit.

Wine Lovers:

Cantine Astroni, Colle Imperatrice Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2011
Same as professional panel.

Azienda Agricola Torre del Pagus, Falanghina Taburno 2010
Buttery, rich, a little oak here I think. The palate too is rich and quite creamy, and this is delicious if ultimately quite simple.

Contrada Salandra, Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2010
Joint runner-up. Big, ripe, bold and rounded nose of crunchy fruit with a touch of nuttiness and honey. Creamy stuff, the palate has very good fruit and an orange peel acidity.

See all UK stockists of Falanghina from Campania on wine-searcher.

Native White Blends, Puglia (1)

Professionals:

Cardone Vini Classici, Il Castillo 2011 (IGP Puglia)
Fine, bright, quite perfumed wine with lemon and juicy pear fruit. Ripe and very attractive on the palate, with real freshness here and a bit of palate weight.

Vigne di Rasciatano, Malvasia Bianca 2011
A touch of herbs, bold apple and pear and real freshness here, with a mineral tang. Really juicy palate, lots of orange and lip-smacking, tangy appeal.

Wine Lovers:

Cardone Vini Classici, Il Castillo 2011 (IGP Puglia)
Same as professional panel.

Cantina di Venosa, Dry Muscat 2011 (IGP Bianco Basilicata)
Plenty of floral Muscat character, with decent fruit but not a convincing expression of the grape.

Native White Blends, Puglia (2)

Professionals:

Villa Schinosa, Fiano 2011 (IGT Puglia)
Nice nose here, with its touch of leafiness and crisp pear expression. A touch of cool Asian pear and nettle too. The palate lacks a touch of sweet fruit perhaps, but fabulously pithy and punchy.

Candido, Tenura Marini Fiano 2011 (IGT Salento)
Another wine with a geranium-like lift, plenty of floral character. Lots of punch here and a good mouthfeel, if a touch short.

Wine Lovers:

Azienda Agricola Michele Biancardi, L'Insolito 2011 (IGT Puglia)
Gently nutty character here is appealing, with a suggestion of ripe fruit. Pleasant, balanced and nicely fresh.

D'Alfonso del Sordo, Catapanus 2011 (IGT Puglia)
Touch of herbs, touch of cool lemon. Some pithy, dry character on the mouth, just lacks a little fruit sweetness but nicely fresh.

Podere 29, Gelso Bianco 2011 (IGT Puglia)
Joint runner-up. Quite full, with decent fruit but lacks a bit of personality. Pleasant.

insula

Cataratto Grape, Sicily

Professionals:

Caruso & Minini, Insula 2011 (IGP Sicilia)
This is quite full and dry, perhaps a little dull after the Sauvignon-like fireworks of the previous wine, but the palate has a toffeed ripeness and this is dry, savoury and very fine.

Buceci Vini, Cataratto 2011 (IGT Sicilia)
Restrained nose, with a suggestion of minerality and stony character, some under-ripe pear fruit. The palate has lovely quality: dry, but juicy with that apple crunch really appealing and good acids into a long finish.

Wine Lovers:

Centopassi, Terre Rosse di Giabbascio 2011 (IGT Sicilia)
Loads of cracked wheat and yeasty character here, nutty - like puffed wheat. Palate has lots of stony minerals that come through, but juiciness too and this ends with delicious tang.

Buceci Vini, Cataratto 2011 (IGT Sicilia)
Same as professional panel.

Terra di Ginestra 2011 (IGP Sicilia)
Joint runner-up. Elderflower and passionfruit aromas suggest big Sauvignon-like character (yeast influence?). The palate is vibrant and fresh with lots of flavour, but is this a good expression of Cataratto? A bit short.

See all UK stockists of Cataratto from Sicily on wine-searcher.

Fiano Grape, Campania

Professionals:

Feudi di San Gregorio, Fiano 2011
The nose is clean, with plenty of apple and pear fruit and though not hugely aromatic, a touch of honey too. On the palate this has that typical Fiano trace of phenolic bite, but the character is there and this has great length.

Tenuta Sarno 1860, Fiano di Avellino 2010
Hints of minerality here, of herbs and greener, fresher notes. The palate has juicy fruit sweetness on the mid palate, with some hints of tropical fruit. A commercial style, but fine quality.

Wine Lovers:

Terre D'Aione, Fiano di Avellino 2011
Slightly non-descript nose, some orchard fruits. A bit of lemon peel too in an authentic but rather reserved style. The palate has creaminess, a trace of bitterness but nice balance.

Tenuta Cavalier Pepe, Refiano 2011
A touch of nuttiness here but a rather reticent nose. The palate is pithy and dry, has a touch of bitter endive herbs.

See all UK stockists of Fiano from Campania on wine-searcher.

Native Rosé Blends, Puglia

Professionals:

Palamà Vini del Salento, Metiusco 2011
Rose-hip and cherry, nice fruit and carries through onto the palate. Rather more ripeness and juiciness than some here.

Rivera, Pungirosa 2011
Fresh redcurrant fruit and a touch of herbs. Not particularly punchy for a rosé, but appealing with some sour lemon freshness.

Wine Lovers:

Calò Michele e Figli, Mjere 2011
Quite spicy and rich, lots of dark fruit and a serious character. Ripeness on the palate, with big fruit and a hint of tannin.

Azienda Monaci, Giroflè 2011
Fairly anonymous nose, some fruit but dry and a touch watery on the finish.

Native Red Blends, Puglia

Professionals:

Azienda Vinicola Albano Carrisi, Platone 2008
Masses of new oak here, with coconut and vanilla rather swamping the fruit. Big, plush and very impressive if, for me, a touch too much oak.

Azienda Agricola Duca Carlo Guarini, Malia 2009
Some blood-streaked, slightly herbal qualities here and a bit reduced. The palate is much nicer: sweet fruit, ripeness, a touch of residual sugar, but attractive.

Wine Lovers:

Azienda Vinicola Albano Carrisi, Platone 2008
Same as professional panel.

Cantine Paradiso, Terraferma 2010
Some freshness here, something leafy and a touch underripe, but good black fruit comes through on the palate. Sweet and chocolaty, perhaps a touch hot in the finish.

botromagno

Nero de Troia Grape, Puglia

Professionals:

Cantine Botromagno, Nero di Troia 2008
Ashy, cedary, lovely quality of French oak here. This has richness and a real weight of black fruit on the palate, very juicy with a real grip of fruit-skin tang and tight tannins. Long and excellent. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Colle Petrito, Iaccio della Portata 2009
Warm, rich and a touch baked, this has plenty of oak but is appealing. The palate is maybe just a touch too oaky and hot, but juiciness comes through and this finishes with some structure and freshness.

Wine Lovers:

Azienda Agricola Santa Lucia, Riserva Le More 2008
Cedary, sophisticated, a bit of vanilla. Too sweet on the palate - too much like old-school Australia? Certainly drying with too much oak.

Antica Enotria, Nero di Troia 2009
A touch raisined and oxidised, but soft, enveloping stuff with that touch of gravy browning to the very sweet-fruited palate.

See all UK stockists of Nero de Troia from Puglia on wine-searcher.

Negroamaro Grape, Puglia

Professionals:

Azienda Monaci, Le Braci 2004
Older, more oxidised in style, this has meatiness but a big, sweet-fruited palate that is resolved and delicious.

Casa Vinicola Apollonio, Divoto 2004
Chocolaty and ripe, with almost minty clarity, this is stunning for an eight-year-old wine. Solid and ripe on the palate too, a touch of game but terrific balance of plushness and finishing freshness. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Wine Lovers:

Azienda Monaci, Le Braci 2004
Same as professional panel.

Conti Zecca, Negroamaro 2009
A little oxidised, gravy browning character. Soft, not lacking pleasure on the palate but simple.

See all UK stockists of Negroamaro from Puglia on wine-searcher.

Magliocco Grape, Calabria

Professionals:

Ferrocinto, Magliocco 2011
Lovely nose, singing with cherry and herbs and a punchy appeal. Modest touch of oak perhaps? Juicy and fresh on the palate.

Librandi Antonio e Nicodemo, Magno Megonio 2009
Quite a meaty tone here, with bold cherry fruit. The palate has good fruit that is juicy, firm and finishes with tangy authority.

Wine Lovers:

Librandi Antonio e Nicodemo, Magno Megonio 2009
Same as professional panel's runner-up.

Cantine Spadafora, 1915 2007
Joint winner. Rather a lot of oak here, but has concentration certainly. Good fruit, but the oak - too much with coffee and charriness dominating.

Ferrocinto, Magliocco 2011
Same as professional panel's winner.

Società Agricola L'Acino, Tocco Magliocco 2008
Joint runner-up. Plenty of sweet oak, good fruit then it does seem stretched a little thin on the palate.

See all UK stockists of Magliocco from Calabria on wine-searcher.

cecilia

Nero d'Avola Grape, Sicily

Professionals:

Planeta, Santa Cecilia 2008
Big, minty nose with plenty of oak, real choc chip mint character, but the fruit freshness is there. Good fruit on the palate, despite the creamy layer of oak and ripeness this has great clarity. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Colletti Luca, Don Luca 2010
Nice, expressive, typical perfume with cherry and kirsch lift and slight ashy character. Juicy on the palate, this is abundantly fresh if simple.

Buceci Vini, Nero d'Avola 2010
Joint runner-up. A very fragrant oak nose here. svelte and attractive on the palate too with just too much oak giving a slightly resinous aspect to the finish.

Wine Lovers:

Colletti Luca, Don Luca 2010
Same as professional panel's runner-up.

Buceci Vini, Nero d'Avola 2010
Same as professional panel's joint runner-up.

See all UK stockists of Nero d'Avola from Sicily on wine-searcher.

Aglianico Grape, Campania

Professionals:

Colle di San Domenico, Aglucus 2006
Meaty and creamy in equal measure on the nose, the tannins and smooth richness fills the mouth, in a wine that is supple and rich yet has real structure too. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Azienda Agricola Case Bianche, Cupersito 2010
Nice nose here, the oaked is refined and the fruit to the fore. The palate is dry, but it is fruit extract and tannin not oak, and there is a purity to this solid, ripe wine.

Wine Lovers:

Colle di San Domenico, Aglucus 2006
Same as professional panel.

Villa Raiano, Aglianico 2010
A lot of stalky green notes here, but not unattractive. The palate has a core of juiciness, but I think the oak tannins slightly strip the finish.

Galardi, Terre di Lavoro 2010
Joint runner-up. Big, bold, cedar and toast nose, dominating some plummy fruit. Loads of sweet coffee and toast, but too much oak.

See all UK stockists of Aglianico from Campania on wine-searcher.

Aglianico del Vulture Grape, Basilicata

Professionals:

Casa Maschito, La Bottaia 2006
Ash and cherry on the nose, there is lovely freshness and immediate complexity here. Delightfully sweet on the palate, the fruit is so smooth but so pure, with a touch of chocolate and real length. (My highest scoring wine of the competition)

Cantine del Notaio, Il Sigillo 2008
Big, ripe, rich nose with a touch of currant and plenty of juicy cherry. The palate is creamy-textured and sweet, just flooded with sweet fruit and good balance into the finish. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Wine Lovers:

Cantine del Notaio, Il Sigillo 2008
Same as professional panel's runner-up.

Agricola Basilisco, Aglianico del Vulture 2007
Dull, slightly rotty nose, oversweet on the palate with a touch of bitterness to the oak tannins.

Musto Carmelitano, Serra del Prete 2009
Joint runner-up. Slightly soapy nose, lots of lift and confection. Lighter in style, it is quite dry and pleasant on the palate.

See all UK stockists of Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata on wine-searcher.

morella

Primitivo Grape, Puglia

Professionals:

Azienda Agricola Morella, Primitivo Old Vines 2008
Big vanillin nose, big coca-cola ripeness. Appealing but a little international in style. Rather hot and alcoholic, but then it does have a fine, creamy texture and that mouth-filling fruit ripeness. A big wine and a touch too smooth for its own good, but undeniable quality.

Agricole Pietraventosa, Primitivo Riserva 2008
A bit green and stalky this, a bit underripe, but it has a certain juicy freshness and no shortage of sweet fruit on the palate. Quite good length, but not hugely complex.

Wine Lovers:

Castel di Salve, Cento su Cento 2010
A touch baked and stewed, the aromatics are dulled here and there's just too much sweetness on the palate.

Cardone Vini Classici, Primaio 2011
Big, sweet-fruited nose, with cherry and red berries, a fresh touch of herbs. The palate is flooded with sweet fruit and this is stylish, juicy and long.

Vetrere, Barone Pazzo 2010
Joint runner-up. Ripe, rich, some creamy depth to this. The fruit is juicy and ripe on the palate making for nice, very approachable drinking.

See all UK stockists of Primitivo from Puglia on wine-searcher.

Gaglioppo Grape, Calabria

Professionals:

Caparra & Siciliani, Volvito 2009
Some green, leafy herb aromas add freshness here. Is there a touch of Brettanomyces? If so it fits well in the picture, with a palate showing real sweetness and some complexity.

Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, 160 anni 2008
Gentle, clean stuff, not too much oak and majors on fruit. Tangy, delicious and fresh on the finish.

Azienda Vitivinicola Du Cropio, Serra Sanguigna 2008
Joint runner-up. Slightly dull aromatics, just misses the juicy freshness of the best here.

Wine Lovers:

Librandi Antonio e Nicodemo, Duca San Felice 2009
Slightly barnyardy aromas here, a touch dank and oxidised. Is this entirely clean? The palate has a pleasing fruit sweetness, some gentle creamy oak and decent balance.

Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, 160 anni 2008
Same as professional panel.

See all UK stockists of Gaglioppo from Calabria on wine-searcher.

Taurasi, Aglianico Grape, Campania

Professionals:

Montesole, Taurasi 2007
A touch of the barnyard here, but lovely fruit aromas assert as well as some pencil-shaving finesse. Big, ripe, flavour-packed palate with fruit, oak and structure. Long, serious stuff this. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Calafè, Taurasi 2006
Joint winner. Cedary fragrance, lovely complexity with red and black fruit qualities and a touch of Indian ink. Gorgeous palate, filled with fruit but with structure and harmony and a long, age-worthy style. (One of my highest scoring wines)

Guastaferro, Primum Riserva 2006
For me a little volatile, this is good on the palate but suffers from the VA.

Villa Raiano, Taurasi 2008
Joint runner-up. Very nice perfume, sweet fruit and cherry lift. Brightly focused, this has overall balance and juiciness.

Wine Lovers:

Guastaferro, Primum Riserva 2006
Same as professional panel's runner-up.

Villa Raiano, Taurasi 2008
Same as professional panel.

See all UK stockists of Taurasi from Campania on wine-searcher.

Patria

Nerello Mascalese Grape, Sicily

Professionals:

Patria, Etna Rosso 2010
French oak influence is cedary and creamy. The bitter cherry freshness of the fruit really comes through on the palate, with a long, tangy finish.

Cottanera, Etna Rosso 2008
Aromatics slightly reserved, though much fresher on the palate. Just needs a little more flesh on its bones.

Cottanera, Barbazzale 2011
Joint runner-up. Creamy cherry, something herbal too. A touch soupy perhaps, quite liquoricy and dense.

Wine Lovers:

Patria, Etna Rosso 2010
Same as professional panel.

Cottanera, Barbazzale 2011
Joint winner. Same as professional panel's runner-up.

Cottanera, Etna Rosso 2008
Same as professional panel.

See all UK stockists of Nerello from Sicily on wine-searcher.