2017 Masseria Li Veli, Susumaniello, IGT Rosso, Salento, Italy.
The 2017 Susmaniello from Li Veli is extraordinarily rich and decedent on the palate with an opulent array of dense red fruits that at first sniff make you think it will be lighter and more tangy than it is in the mouth and the cedary wood notes add sense of power to this red from the Salento region. Lightly floral and minty this intriguing wine feels full in mouth with candied red cherry, plum, dried cranberry, red peach flesh and spicy raspberry fruits along with a touch of crushed rock, baking spices and mineral tones. This year is more weighty than my prior experiences with this wine, but with air it really comes alive and gives a solid all around performance in the glass, gaining sharper detail and taking on a dark fruit tone, more boysenberry and loses the first impression of baby fat and juiciness. This is always a fun wine to show off, as almost no one has ever heard of Susmaniello, and it’s far from just a curiosity, as it gives a lot of interesting character and is great with most Italian regional cuisines, including pasta dishes of course.
Askos is the name that Falvo family, the owners of Masseria Li Veli gave their project of rediscovery and selection of ancient Apulian grape varieties, like Susumaniello, that had almost gone extinct. Wines are produced by using exclusively these indigenous varietals, cultivated in their most suitable terroirs according the traditional methods. We have chosen a Greek “Askos” an ancient Decanter as a symbol of the wine making, a practice that in Puglia was started by the ancient Greeks. The Li Veli Susumaniello was aged for 9 months in a combination of 500 liter and 225 liter barrels, and while oak raised and toasty sweet, it remains fresh and vibrant with some savory elements, a streak of mineral, sweet and sour notes and a light earthiness. Believed to have been brought to Apulia in ancient times little is really known of this grape’s origins and if there is anyway else where it is still grown, so Li Vela’s Askos project certainly looks to have saved Susumaniello for the world, and tasting this wine is an experience into the region’s past, and its future.
($22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive