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What our expert thought of Caiaffa, Negroamaro




the tasting

The Tasting


Unusually for the dark Negroamaro, this wine’s crimson colour is just on the pale side of medium.  It looks a couple of years older than it is ‐ there’s not much youthful purple about it ‐ but that’s typical for this grape.
 
The nose is rather more emphatic!  Filled with dried herbs and warm spices, it has an immediate appeal.  It also smells quite fresh, thanks to a hint of crisp green peppers.  Behind that are sweet summery red fruits: redcurrant and raspberry, along with a little blackcurrant.  At first it seems unoaked, but there are intriguing hints of smoke and coffee that might be from the three months spent in barrel.
 
It’s fresh in the mouth too, with juicy acidity and plenty of pure, sweet-tasting, red berry fruit.  Echoing the nose, there are a few blackcurrants in amongst the red ones.  There’s a hint of something riper, perhaps figs, but nothing like the full-on dried fruits typical of this variety.
 
Those sweet berry flavours persist into the finish, which is delightfully mouthwatering and refreshing thanks to the almost complete absence of any tannins to dry it out.


Assessment


Negroamaro translates as “black bitter”, but on this showing it seems to be misnamed!  This wine isn’t black and it certainly isn’t bitter ‐ I’ve rarely tasted a less tannic young red.  The last Negroamaro we featured, back in November 2016, wasn’t bitter either.  The variety is actually quite low in tannins, making it particularly suitable for drinking young.
 
I was surprised by the pale colour, though.  This wine is supposed to have spent a whole three weeks fermenting on the skins.  Wild yeast ferments do take longer because it takes time for the yeasts to multiply.  But I reckon producer Caiaffa have deliberately avoided over-extraction by keeping the temperature low and doing the minimum amount of punchdowns or pumpovers needed to keep the cap of skins from drying out.  The sulphur dioxide usually added to grape must as a disinfectant also plays a major role in extracting colour from the skins, but Caiaffa will have avoided it here because it inhibits the wild yeasts.
 
The result is not very typical of Negroamaro, but it works beautifully!  It has fresh, food-friendly acidity rarely seen on this grape, along with delightfully direct, pure-fruited flavours.  Caiaffa’s restraint has paid dividends: supple, moreish and very easy to drink, this would make a great house red.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium(-?) crimson, looks older than it is
Nose

Intensity medium+

Aromas dried herbs (thyme, tobacco), warm spices (allspice, liquorice), vegetal (green peppers), sweet summery red fruits (redcurrant, raspberry), a little black fruit (blackcurrant), v. subtle oak (smoke, coffee)

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness dry, but sweet-fruited

Acidity medium+, juicy

Body medium

Tannins very soft, almost absent

Intensity medium

Flavours pure red berries, a little blackcurrant, hint of dried fruit (fig)
Finish

Length medium

Flavours as palate, mouthwatering & refreshing (no tannins to dry it)
Other notes
Almost unoaked. Distinctive herby nose. Some reduction so best decanted. Very pure-fruited.


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