Sometimes you defeat a wine, sometimes a wine defeats you. This was my experience with a recent sample bottle of Cantele Amativo. I tried my darndest to tame it, but had to give in and be humbled in/by its presence.
This is an Italian wine from the Salento region. Located within Puglia, the heel of the boot that is Italy, wines of the region are not lacking in power. Amativo is a blend of 60% Primitivo and 40% Negroamaro. It is a big, rich, brawny wine. I used to think of it as monolithic, but now I think of it as not related to/resembling a monolith but in and of itself a MONOLITH.
Let’s go to the dictionary, shall we? Here’s a meanings of monolith I find apt:
an organized whole that acts as a single unified powerful or influential force
Yes, this is what it is. Though a blend of two grapes, the wine becomes one. More than the sum of its parts. I call it indestructible because after opening the Amativo I did all the wrong things. I set the bottle in my non-climate controlled bedroom. Probably exposed it to sunlight as well. But this wine on day two, three, even four and five (!) would not fade. I also found myself enjoying it more the longer it was open. Obviously at some point the law of diminishing returns comes into play.
Lessons from the Cantele Amativo: One To Grown On
Though I’m much more of a light and lacy kinda red wine guy, I learned something from this bottle. Namely that time and patience are not only required for a winemaker, but sometimes for a wine drinker as well. Whatever wine you choose, from low-ABV see-through sipper to black-as-pitch Zinfandel, I guarantee it will be a different wine the next day. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. But each are instructive. And if you are the type to contemplate cellaring wine, beware of any bottle that falls off a cliff on day two.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of INDESTRUCTIBLE WINES. Kind of reminds me of a comment Chris Blandy had about Madeira. It doesn’t have a shelf life, but rather a half life. Of course, Madeira is a fortified wine so it’s going to last longer than any “regular” wine. But Amativo will surprise you with its staying power. Just don’t be a dolt like me: put your open bottle in the fridge to slow down the oxidation.
Also in the interest of full disclosure Paulo Cantele bought me dinner the last time he was in town. It was January. Jeremy Parzen was there as well. So were other people. Wines were consumed. Food was eaten.