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Santa Lucia Castel del Monte Riserva DOC 1997

Other Red Blends from Italy
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    Winemaker Notes

    The red grape of Castel del Monte is Troia (Troy), which has its origins in Greek antiquity. Santa Lucias Castel del Monte Rosso also consists of 25% Montepulciano and 5% Malbec. Aging is mostly in large French oak casks, which for the Riserva lasts for two years, followed by six months bottle age before release. The Troia gives structure, tannin and a warm spiciness, while the Montepulciano and Malbec add flesh and tone. This wine is dark, deep, and luscious, with a full body and fine texture.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Santa Lucia

    Santa Lucia

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    Santa Lucia, Italy
    On the Adriatic coast in the region of Puglia, about sixty kilometers south of the spur of Italy's boot, lies the port town of Trani. Twenty kilometers inland from Trani, just beyond the town of Corato and rising 250 meters above it is the Santa Lucia farm. A few kilometers further on, and rising higher stands the extraordinary octagonal castle built by the Swabian Emperor Friedrich II, visible except on the rare cloudy day. It is from this singular structure that Castel del Monte DOC gets its name. Here, the summers are long and hot, so hot that one's spirit sags and wilts. Santa Lucia's single-level villa of about 300 square meters - dating back to the early 17th century - has walls so thick that a complete bathroom was carved into one. Inside it is cool and in the subterranean cellar the temperature is never above 64 degrees F, even on the hottest summer days. The most unusual aspect of this estate is its size. Most wineries in Puglia are enormous, factory-like facilities, producing millions of bottles per year. Santa Lucia, on the other hand, produces fewer than 8500 cases in a typical vintage. Small by any standards, this production is truly miniscule on the Puglian scale. The vineyards are hand-worked, like gardens, and the winemaking is just as personal and meticulous.

    Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.

    Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course, Pinot Grigio.

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    With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

    VIN72402_1997 Item# 15103