When I was first legally able to purchase wine, a lot of my early buys hailed from Puglia. These wines were inexpensive, reliably delicious, and they paired with the kinds of food I was cooking at the time (bastardized New Jersey/Italian dishes, mainly).
Puglia is still home to inexpensive, tasty (mainly red) wines, including a lineup from from Cantine San Marzano. These wines are cost about $17 bucks, and a few of them are seriously good for that price. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2016 Feudi di San Marzano Rosé di Primitivo Tramari - Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
Pale copper color. Nose is zesty and bright with white cherry, red apple, nettle, perfume, a mixed garden of green herbs thrown in. Plush presence but fresh acidity. Juicy melon, cherry and red apple mixed with dusty, earthy tones and some peppery spice, which keep it interesting, but it’s also simply delicious. (87 points)
2013 Cantine San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria Talò - Italy, Puglia, Primitivo di Manduria
Deep ruby. Aromas of spicy red currants, raspberries, rhubarb, pepper, leather, roasted herbs. Juicy but tangy on the palate with medium tannins and medium acidity. Juicy but tangy red currants and tart plums, mixed with baked figs and sweet jammy notes. Notes of coffee grounds, violets, roasted herbs, tobacco pipe, pine resin — cool stuff! Rich and chewy, hint of sweetness, yet stays bright and lively, showing significant complexity and depth. (89 points)
2013 Cantine San Marzano Salice Salentino Talò - Italy, Puglia, Salice Salentino
Medium purple color. Aromas of roasted figs, dark plums, black cherry jam, a cool mix of coffee, spicy black pepper, and sweet lavender. Good tannic backbone, medium/low acidity, dense with black fruit (currants, blackberries). Laced with graphite, dark chocolate, sweet coffee, cola, incense sticks. A pleasantly earthy quality lingers on the finish. Still quite young and capable of improvement, this is very pretty despite its density. (89 points)
2014 Cantine San Marzano Malvasia Nera Talò Salento IGT - Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
Medium ruby color. Aromas of spicy raspberries, juicy black cherries, green herbs, black pepper, some vanilla, too. Fleshy texture, dusty-light tannins, medium-low acidity. Cranberry jam and baked plums and figs mix with rich, hedonistic flavors of sweet cola, vanilla, anise cookie. Ripe, chewy, a bit baked, makes it hard to discern the regional and varietal nuances underneath, but it’s still a fun and tasty wine for near-term consumption. 85% Nergroamaro, 15% Malasia Nera. (86 points)
2014 Cantine San Marzano Negroamaro Talò Salento IGT - Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
Medium purple color. Aromas of black cherry ice cream, juicy blueberries, rich and jamy with some anise, tobacco pipe and asphalt notes. Some structured tannins but rounded edges, medium acidity helps balance it out against the loads of black cherries, blackberry and blueberry jam. I love the combination of dark soil, smashed rocks and gravel, and the way it mixes it with coffee, dark chocolate shavings, sweet black pepper glaze. Could open up with a few years but this is good to go, and straight-up delicious. (89 points)
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.