Body: Medium to full
Tannin: Medium to high (but tannins are generally soft)
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Best to drink within a few years of the vintage, but higher quality wines and oaked examples can improve for five years and more.
Aka: Sometimes written as Negro Amaro.
Other: Can offer excellent value for money.
Negroamaro (NAY-grow-ah-MAH-row) is an Italian grape variety that has a long history, stretching back to Classical times in the Puglia region located in the south east of the country, which includes the “heel” of Italy. The origin of the name Negroamaro is uncertain. In modern Italian it translates as “black, bitter” (negro means ‘black’ and amaro means ‘bitter’), but this does not fit with the taste profile of the grape (except for badly made examples) as the hot climate of Puglia ensures that grapes can easily achieve full ripeness with high sugar levels.
Many believe a more likely meaning is derived from Greek, as this area at the heel of Italy was a Greek colony from 600 BC. The old name for Negroamaro was “Niuru Maru” and maru in ancient Greek meant Moor, or a person from North Africa, and this word has evolved into mavros, which means “black” in Greek today. So perhaps the name is simply a description of the very “dark black” skin of the grape. Either way it produces delicious wines that have a very broad appeal.
Negroamaro is ideally suited to Puglia as it thrives in a hot climate and is very resistant to drought. As it is a high yielding vine, good vineyard management is required to reduce the yield and concentrate the fruit flavors. Older vines produce the best fruit and Puglia is fortunate as vines over 50 years old are quite common. Traditionally, Negroamaro was used for blending to add color to other wines. However, with improved wine making techniques and the growing recognition that quality wines can be made from indigenous grape varieties, the focus has changed.
As a result varietal wines are now on the increase and the profile of Negroamaro as a grape capable of producing excellent quality wine is rising. These wines are smooth, with a silky texture and can be full of character. Aromas of red and black fruits as well as spices (clove, cinnamon and nutmeg) are followed by flavors of plum, cherry, and blackberry, with a refreshing cherry finish. More complex examples can display notes of coffee, tobacco, licorice and bitter chocolate, along with an earthy quality.
Negroamaro is also excellent in blends and is best known for the dominant role it plays – together with Malvasia Nera – in the red wines of the Salice Salentino DOC. In other areas of Puglia it is blended with grapes such as Montepulciano and Sangiovese as well as Malvasia Nera to great effect. These wines are quite delicious and can offer great value for money. Negroamaro is also used to produce very good quality and quite robust Rosé, which is very popular with seafood in this coastal region.
Generally, Negroamaro should be consumed within a few years of the vintage, but higher quality wines and oaked examples can improve for five years and more.
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