Trader Joe’s stocks three wines from Italian producer Femar Vini Epicuro that we took for a sip and a spin: they are the 2010 Aglianico, 2012 Primitivo and 2009 Salice Salentino Riserva. All three are priced at a comfortable $5.99.
The Aglianico, from Italy’s Beneventano wine region, showed surprising complexity for the price, offering bang for the buck. Black fruits accented by a touch of tobacco, gentle smokiness, and spice on the finish. The tannins are soft, and the finish is smooth. This is a case buy, me thinks.
The Primitivo – from Puglia, the hot heel of Italy – was a different story. Juicy and jammy, this is a soft, flabby wine. From nose to palate, it’s pretty much a one-hit wonder of sun-soaked mash-up jam and a whiff of licorice. It also paired rather poorly with Carne Asada, standing a bit better on its own as a simple sipper. A primitive Primitivo, if you’ll allow me.
The Salice Salentino (named after a village in the heel of the Italian boot) is a red wine from Southern Italy and has had DOC status since 1976. The grapes are 80% negroamaro and 20% malvasia nera. I was pleasantly surprised by this red. More sour than the smooth Aglianico, it delivers fresh, sour(ish) berries and a hint of violets. As with the Aglianico, the tannins were on the softer side. The acidity played nicely off the fruit that from this southern area of Italy can come off as flabby and overripe all too often. Like so many Italian wines, this red is best served with food (a pizza paired well for us) than on its own. Overall, I’m impressed and will definitely return for more.