Rivera ‘Il Falcone’ Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva 2014
Puglia (or Apulia in anglicised form) is one of southern Italy’s lesser known but up-and-coming viticultural regions and one that every wine lover should have on their radar. Geographically speaking, Puglia is the high heel on the boot of Italy, jutting out into the Mediterranean, the Adriatic sea to the east and Ionian to the south. However, the region is somewhat unique within the typical mountainous terrain of the south, as it boasts a very sizeable proportion of flat agricultural land; a fact that has enabled a recent surge in the total acreage under vine which has catapulted Puglia to become Italy’s second largest wine producing region. Historically less fortunate, the region was characterized for a large part of the 20th century by anonymous bulk wine; a stigma which has confined Puglia until recently to the cheap and cheerful category. However, now is the time to view Puglia’s vinous output through another lens; a lens that focuses on quality rather than quantity with an increasing number of wineries creating authentic wines from a vast variety of native Puglian grapes.
Rivera is one such a producer, founded in 1950 and currently in its 3rd generation of family ownership, that crafts an array of delicious wines that range from everyday accessible sipping to the truly fine and cellar-worthy. Located in the heart of central-northern Puglia in the Castel del Monte DOC, Rivera has taken a modern approach to winemaking which still firmly expresses this part of the region’s higher elevation, limestone underpinned vineyards. There is a line of freshness that unites the fruit quality in all the wines and lower alcohol that you might expect from these hot and sunny climes.
Il Falcone, one of Rivera’s flagship reds, takes its name from the falcons that at one time inhabited the medieval Castel del Monte, built a hunting retreat by emperor Frederik II of Swabia; it remains today as the region’s most significant historical landmark. The wine itself is a traditional blend composed of 70% of the highly structured native variety, Nero di Troia, fleshed out with 30% of softer Montepulciano. This is a red which combines the some typical Puglian ripeness and richness with an elegance more specific to Castel del Monte. The cooler 2014 vintage shows a lovely purity of raspberry and cherry fruit with complexing elements of dried savoury herbs, anise, tobacco and meaty tones. The palate is mid-weight and refreshing with a light grip and refined balance through the finish; a signature the winery is now known for. This is a classy red that would pair perfectly with a Puglian classic like Bombette (cheese stuffed meat rolls), some of Oyama’s venison sausages off the grill or a wild mushroom risotto. Salute!
Available at BC Liquor Stores for $29.99
About Mark Shipway, DipWSET