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Piromàfo, an elegant negroamaro from Apulia

—Piromàfo means fighting fire in Greek says Elio Minoia. It’s a stone used for ovens in the past because it resists the heat so well, he continues.

Elio Minoia is a low-profile winemaker and a big smile at the winery Valle dell’Asso. The winery is located in Galatina, just outside Lecce in Salento, at the bottom of the Italian heel, in Apulia or Puglia as it is also called. Elio has worked side by side with the founder of the winery, Luigi Vallone, until the later sadly passed away. Today, Elio continues his work, with his daughter Mariachiara Minoia and the new owner Pierantonio Fiorentino. Sometimes it’s positive that things remain as they were. Like in this case.

Mariachiara Minoia at Piromafo, Apulia

Mariachiara Minoia at Valle dell´Asso, Apulia, copyright A Johansson

Piromàfo is an excellent proof of what you can, and could do, in Apulia. Elio Minoia prefers elegance instead of strength, something that is missing in the more common sugary fruit bombs I try during my trip to Apulia. Perhaps that’s what people want, the oak, the sugar and the two pounds heavy bottles? At least it seems to be the old-fashion style many producers still prefer in the region.

“We received our organic certification in 1996, nature is important to us,” says Elio.

They do not irrigate the vineyards even though it only rains between 400 and 600 mm per year. Not for nothing, the name of the region derived from Latin’s A Pluvia, the absence of rain.

“Without irrigation, wines get more structure, elegance and a longer life,” continues Elio.

“We also prefer lighter glass bottles to protect the environment,” says Mariachiara.

At Radici del Sud, a wine fair organized by Nicola Campanile, where the producers of southern Italy gathered, we tried six vintages of Piromàfo, IGP Salento, Valle dell’Asso. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the older vintages were.

Tasting Piromafo IGP Salento

Tasting Piromafo IGP Salento, copyright A Johansson

Piromàfo 2011, IGP Salento

Aromas of dark berries and ripe cherries, spicy with high acidity and fine tannins. Medium body and a long finish. Gives a tight and fresh impression compared to the negramaro I previously tasted from other producers.

Piromàfo 2007, IGP Salento

Here the fruit is more mature, mature blue plum mixed with tobacco aromas and hints of orange peel, warm appearance, slightly bitter finish, the acidity is refreshing in the background.

Piromàfo 2006, IGP Salento

Chocolate, dried plums, black pepper, smooth tannins, all elements are well integrated. A favourite!

Piromàfo 2003, IGP Salento

Dried tobacco, cedar wood, the colour has orange elements, high acidity. Lack of fruit. On the verge of having gone over time. Should be drunk now.

Piromàfo 2001, IGP Salento

Here there was something wrong with the bottle. No comment to give.

Piromàfo 1999, IGP Salento

Cocoa beans mixed with earthy tones, high acidity with a long, spicy finish. Color still youthful with light hints of brick colour. Elegant and an excellent proof of how well Negroamaro can handle years in the bottle.

Price ca 20 euro

More information on the winery: www.valleasso.it

Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. Asa writes regularly on wine and food in Swedish and Italian publications as well as online.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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