The Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian Wines 2023 was on tour in the USA promoting the wines that they awarded “Tre Biccheire” their highest rating. I was invited by Stephanie Goodwin, account director, Mc Cue PR West1, to a tasting of the wines of Tenute Rubino and their Tre Biccherie wine at Piccola Cucina restaurant in NYC.
Tenute Rubino is known as La Casa Del Susumaniello
The speakers were Luigi Rubino and his wife Romina Leopardi, Diettore Marketing e Communizatione the owners and Marco Sabellico, Senior Editor Gambero Rosso. I have known Marco for a number of years.
I first met Romina when I was on a press trip to Puglia with Nicola Campanile organize of Radici del Sud 2016. She was part of the Association National Le Donna Del Vino Delegation Puglia and they invited us for a wine tasting.
At the dinner I was sitting across from Romina and next to Marco, which made the evening more interesting as we spoke about Tenute Rubino, the Susumaniello grape variety and the wines of Puglia. Luigi and Romina told me about the estate and their wines while Marco spoke about Gambero Rosso, the Tre Bicchiere award and why the Oltremé Rosso was selected to receive the award.
Susumaniello is a traditional Apulian grape, particular to the Brindisi area, which may have come from Dalmatia in ancient times. The name means “small donkey” because the vines at harvest time appear to almost struggle under the weight of so many grape clusters. However, over the years the exceptional productivity of this vine declined significantly and by the end of the last century many local growers had abandoned it.
Luigi Rubino noticed that as Susumaniello’s abundant yields began to decrease, the grapes revealed outstanding qualities, making wines with great structure, elegance and aromas. He found a perfect location on the 13 hectare Jaddico estate on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, 8 kilometres north of Brindisi. With its closeness to the sea, sea breezes, and sandy, well-drained soil it was the ideal terroir for Susumaniello. In 2001 Torre Testa, the first monovarietal Susumaniello, was produced from 50 year old alberello and cordon spur trained vines of the Jaddico estate. Ssumaniello is now grown on a 20 hectare single vineyard. Luigi said Susmaniello is a very versatile grape and can be used to make red and rosé wines as well as a traditional method sparking rosé.
The Wines of Tenute Rubino
IGT Salento Brindisi Vino Spumante Rosé Brut Sumaré 30 months Metodo Classico. Made from 100% Susumaniello from the Jaddico-Giancòla vineyards at sea level The soil is sandy and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 6,000 plants per hectare and a manual harvest takes place the first days of September. The primary fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The second fermentation is in the bottle. The wine ages for at least 30 months before release. The wine has hints of ginger, hazelnuts, a touch of raspberry and a hint of strawberry.
IGT Salento-Brindisi “Oltremé” Rosato made from 100% Susmaniello. Harvest is by hand the first 10 days of September. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. Aging is for 4 months in steel tanks and 1 to 2 months in bottle before release.The wine has hints of strawberry, raspberry, red currants and a touch of rose pedals.
Rosso DOC Brindisi “Oltremé” made from 100% Susumaniello. Manual harvest the first days of October. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation is carried out. Aging is in steel tanks for ten months and a minimum of 2 months in bottle before release. This wine was awarded Tre Bicchieri, the highest rating by Gambero Rosso. This is a true Tre Bicchieri wine. It is an elegant wine hints of morello cherry, pomegranate, blueberry, a touch of bay leaf and a note of spice. It is the kind of wine that when the bottle is empty, one looks around for more.
Brindisi DOC Rosso Riserva “Jaddico” made from 20% Susumaniello and 80% Negroamaro. The vineyards are at sea level and the soil is sandy. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation is carried out. Aging is in steel tanks for 14 months and then 8 to 9 months in French barriques. The wine remains in bottle for a minimum of 3 months before release. The wine has hints of leather, tobacco, and plum with a hint aromatic herbs. This is the wine I tasted when I first met Romina in Puglia. I liked it then and still like it now.
Rosso DOC Brindisi Rosso Torre Testa 2017 made from 100% Susumaniello. The training system is head training and spurred cordon. Harvest is by hand the first days of October. The partially raisined grapes are left to dry for 2/3 weeks. Malolactic is totally carried out. Aging is for 5 to 6 months in steel tanks for a minimum of 12 months in French barriques and 12 months in bottle before release. This is a full bodied complex wine with hints of blackberry, plum jam, black cherry and a touch of chocolate. The first vintage was in 2001. Romina said Torre Testa is the estate’s flagship wine.
We also tasted the Torre Testa 2014 made from 100% Susumaniello. This wine has the same aroma and flavor profile as the 2017 except it is more developed and approachable. Both will age very well. I was very impressed with both wines.