Castello Monaci Aiace Salice Salentino Riserva 2013
The 2013 Aiace has a deep ruby color with an intense nose of full, jammy fruit. The wine is lively on the palate dominated by flavors of raspberry, blackberry and spice.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Salice Salentino Riserva Aiace (with 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce) is a modern and luscious red wine that is shaped in equal parts by ripe fruit concentration and spicy oak. The wine is soft and yielding in terms of its tannins. Blackberry fruit and spice intermingle with seamless intensity and there is that telltale point of cherry bitterness that you often get with Salice Salentino wines.
Castello Monaci stands out in the heart of the Salice Salentino DOC, which is located in Puglia, a region along the Adriatic in the “heel of the boot” of farthest southeast Italy. The production of Castello Monaci’s estate wines is carefully followed from the vineyards to the winery and into the bottle. The estate is dedicated to their sustainable philosophy and is one of a small number of Italian estates to have their sustainability certified by DNV-GL, a globally recognized firm. Even Castello Monaci’s packaging is eco-friendly, carrying the Environmental Management System Certificate logo. Castello Monaci is a benchmark producer crafting wines from Southern Italy’s indigenous grapes: Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The region of Puglia is drenched in the most intense sunlight in all of Italy tempered only by the Adriatic and Ionian seas which provide con¬stant, cooling maritime winds. This unique climate helps produce exquisitely balanced fruit. The Castello Monaci estate is housed in a 16th century castle with medieval foundations once run by Basilian monks who maintained a long wine¬making tradition. Lina Memmo, whose family has owned the estate since the 19th century, and husband Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri, currently own the property. Each vineyard parcel is cultivated, harvested—always at night to unsure the best quality of grapes—and vinified separately in small tanks. The area dedicated to aging wines is a spectacular barrel cellar dug out of the hard rock that houses 1,000 barriques and 18 French oak barrels. Castello Monaci’s cellars are surrounded by over 350 acres of vineyards, including old vine Negroamaro and Primitivo. In addition, they have expanded their estate with holdings near Brindisi planted with white varietals. Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri, president of the estate, who for years has experimented with selections to enhance the native vines of Salento, supervises the work in the vineyards personally.
While robust notes of dark fruit do characterize Negroamaro, its modern expression doesn’t quite live up to the dramatic meaning of its name, “bitter and black.” This dark-skinned southern Italian grape variety is found on the eastern half of the Salento peninsula, which is the backside of Italy’s “boot heel” and part of the Puglia region. Negroamaro forms the base, along with Malvasia Nera and Primitivo, for the best wine of the area, called Salice Salentino. It can also produce single varietal reds as well as some impressive aromatic rosé wines. Somm Secret—Negroamaro is truly an Italian wine – no propagation of the grape is found anywhere else outside of Italy.
Well-suited to the production of concentrated, fruity and spicy red varieties, Puglia is one of Italy’s warmest, most southerly regions. Its entire eastern side is one long coastline bordering the Adriatic Sea. About half way down, the region becomes the Salento Peninsula. This peninsula, bordered by water on three sides, receives moist, nighttime, sea breezes that bring a welcome cooling effect to the region, where little rain creates a challenging environment for its vines. In fact, the region is named for the Italian expression, “a pluvia,” meaning “lack of rain.”
Puglia’s Mediterranean climate and iron-rich, calcareous soils support the indigenous Primitivo, Negroamaro and Nero di Troia. Primitivo produces an inky, spicy, brambly and ripe red wine whose best expression comes from Manduria. Nero di Troia produces tannic, rustic reds from Castel del Monte DOC while Negroamaro, typically blended with Malvasia nera, plays a large part in may blends made throughout the peninsula.
Puglia produces a small amount of white wines as well, predominantly made of the fruity, Trebbiano Toscano, or light, Bombino bianco grapes.