2007 Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Copertino Riserva
Negroamaro (95%), Malvasia Nera (5%)
Copertino DOC, Apulia, Italy
Southern Italian wines have undergone a remarkable transformation over the last few decades. Traditionally used for bulk wine and to add color and body to thinner wines in northern Italy, they are now produced in smaller quantities at higher qualities. The result is some of the best red wine values in the world.
These wines are often big and brawny straight out of the gate and need several years in the bottle to smooth out their bitterness and tannic bite. While there are a variety of new technologies that allow for rapid "aging" of young wines that are excessively acidic and tannic, nothing can replace the magic of ordinary time. I was lucky to find this gem at Vin Chicago for an inexplicable $12. I usually jump at the chance when I find aged wines for a reasonable price... they often reveal special treasures.
Six years of aging has been very kind to this wine. The aroma jumped out of the glass before my nose came near it. Intoxicating. It's complex and well-integrated with dried dark cherries (plum too?), some spice, a hint of tobacco and leather, and a touch of attractive funk. The palate is fresh with medium acidity and sweet, mature fruit, a hint of vanilla, and reflects a lot of what I found on the nose. The finish is medium length.
This is produced by the cooperative in the town of Copertino, almost as far southeast in the heel of Italy as you can go. It's tough to find information about viticultural practices for cooperatives since the grapes can be sourced from hundreds of different farmers, a typical model in Europe but uncommon in the United States.
This wine has a hell of a lot of character for $12. It's complex, food-friendly, and a great opportunity for wine drinkers of all types to experience the allure and charm of a mature wine. It won't blow you away with its power but it has some great finesse. Cheap enough for a party, complex enough for serious contemplation.