Masseria Li Veli, “Askos” Susumaniello Salento IGT 2020 (about $22)

 

Italian Wine for august, 2022

Susumaniello is a little-known, late-ripening red grape variety grown in limited quantities in the lower stretches of the Puglia region, particularly in the Salento area and a few vineyards around Brindisi. With only about 125 acres under vine, the Susumaniello variety certainly qualifies as a wine rarity.

Susumaniello has commonly been used as a blending wine to provide additional color and tannins to the blend. However, a few wineries have begun producing and marketing wines made entirely of Susumaniello (soo soo man yehl’ oh) that have received some very favorable reviews and sparked interest in the variety.

One such winery is Masseria Li Veli located in Puglia’s Brindisi province. While originally founded in the late 19th century, Li Veli’s modern history starts about a century later in 1999 when the timeworn estate was acquired by the Falvo family.

Flush with funds from the sale of its prestigious Avignonesi winery in Tuscany the family undertook an ambitious project of replanting Masseria Li Veli’s vineyards and upgrading the estate and its winemaking facilities. Quality and sales increased substantially and within a few years Li Veli has become one of Puglia’s premier producers.

Li Veli has an extensive lineup of wines in its portfolio with an emphasis on wines made with traditional varieties of the Salento area such as Primitivo, Negroamaro, Verdeca as well as Susumaniello. The “Askos” line showcases the Li Veli wines made with traditional Puglian varieties. Production is overseen by Roberto Cotarella, one of Italy’s most highly regarded consulting winemakers.

The 2020 "Askos" Susumaniello from the Masseria Li Veli winery in Italy's Puglia region.Made entirely of Susumaniello grapes harvested from 20-year-old vines, the “Askos” Susumaniello is fermented in French oak vats and aged for 9 months in a combination of barriques and large-format vats, both of French oak. The wine spends 2 months in the bottle prior to release for sale and has 14.5 percent alcohol.

The 2020 Li Veli Susumaniello has a dark ruby red color with purple shades and a deeply-endowed bouquet of dark fruit and some notes of freshly-brewed expresso. It is medium-to-full-bodied with a dense and velvety texture, ripe dark cherry and blackberry flavors on a smooth tannic frame balanced with delicate acidity. It has an inviting fruit-driven finish and is buoyed by a relatively modest retail price tag.

It is an enticing, albeit young wine that nonetheless captures the suppleness and fruit-forward flavors of the Susumaniello variety.

 

©Richard Marcis
August 5, 2022

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