2022 Masseria Li Veli, Verdeca “Askos” Salento IGT, Puglia, Italy.
Li Veli’s Verdeca white, which I first tried with their 2012 vintage, is a steely fresh wine with racy citrus, white peach and melon fruits, along with lime blossom, wild mint, wet stones and citron oil accents, all in a light framed and zesty palate that makes it great with Summer cuisine choices and especially seafoods. This rare ancient Greek varietal, found in Puglia and recently saved from extinction, Verdeca, makes for an intriguing white and Li Veli’s gentile and artisan touch showcases the best of this grape. The grapes about 90% Verdeco and maybe close to 10% Fiano, depending on the vintage, are all hand harvested in small baskets and kept chilled through there handling and fermentation, in stainless steel tanks, and they allowed a fairly long skin contact which brings out aroma and extract, but they didn’t allow malolactic to occur here, so the wine stays firmly acidic and minerally crisp. This extra care and craftsmanship really pays off in this beautifully detailed and vibrant wine from Italy’s south “The Heel of Italy” Salento region.

Askos, as I’ve mentioned before in prior reviews, 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 Verdeca, as seen here, and Susumaniello, a red varietal, that had almost gone extinct. These Li Veli wines are produced by using exclusively these ancient indigenous varietals, cultivated in their most suitable terroirs according the traditional methods. The Li Veli winery says that they have chosen a Greek “Askos”, an ancient clay decanter or vessel, as a symbol of the wine making here, a practice that in Puglia was started by the Greeks, who inhabited the region way back when and pioneered the winemaking trade. Some of the grapes found in Southern Italy were have thought to have been brought here by those ancient Greek colonists and throughout the area, here and in Campania, you can find grapes even named with respect to that, including Greco di Tufo, though recent studies have suggested that many of the varietals were here originally. The delicately floral Verdeca grape, which is almost unknown outside the Salento zone, is lovely in the hands of Li Veli and I highly recommend it, and I am hugely impressed by Masseria Li Veli and their commitment to wine, history and traditions.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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