Susumaniello is a red grape native to the Puglia region of southern Italy (the heel of the boot). At the turn of the century, there were only about 4 hectares of the vine grown, all from this region. Since this time, there has been a significant resurgence and now there are around 400 hectares under vine. It is a workhorse of a vine, so it is aptly named because Susumaniello is derived from the term somarello, meaning donkey. The vines are known for their large yields due to an abundance of clusters of grapes. In order to produce quality wines, these yields needed to be controlled to harness the purest and most concentrated character the grape was capable of. With this focus shifted, the vines produced wines that showcased the sandy soil and salted sea breezes synonymous with the Brindisi area where the vines are found. Susumaniello can be made into a tannic red wine or a refreshing rosé (perfect for a beautiful summer evening overlooking the Adriatic while dining on a dinner of fresh seafood). It can also, less commonly, be used to create sparkling wines. Some of the early bottles of red from around the year 2000 are now showcasing the variety’s ageability.
The bottle I drank this week was a 2021 Masseria Li Veli rosé (rosato) of Susumaniello. The pale peach color of the wine was consistent with the gummy peach o’s candy aromas it contained. This rosé got its color by the grapes being pressed for a period of 7 hours. The direct press method allowed minimal color to be bled from the grape skins. Notes of wild strawberries, apricots, watermelon, banana and white grapefruit round out of the nose of this wine. On the palate, this easy drinking, light bodied, moderate alcohol dry wine had a refreshing amount of acidity and very little tannin. The peachy o’s were again the dominant flavor with the other aforementioned notes taking a back seat. There was also a touch of minerality that added some complexity. It would be fantastic if paired with a light seafood dish that featured fruit salsa. I was going to try it with shrimp scampi, but couldn’t be bothered to cook dinner when I could be enjoying a chilled glass of wine on a hot afternoon instead!