Natalino Del Prete 'Anne' Negroamaro Puglia 2021
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Natalino del Prete is another old guard natural winemaker, certified organic in 1994 and never using any sulfur. In Puglia, he is an outlier. It's a rural, poorer part of southern Italy and there is not much motivation to work like Natalino, whose costs and labor are higher than those working conventionally. Thankfully he and his family continue to take on the extra work of natural viticulture, and the result is some very unadulterated, distinct wines. They have been called 'unpretentious peasant wine made for everyday consumption' but that is selling them short. The del Prete wines are some of my favorite southern Italian wines.
Though they can be pretty funky, this 100% Negroamaro called "Anne" after Natalino's wife, is less wild, not quite going off the rails. But the feeling that it might is exciting. There's a touch of barnyard but it gives way to a complex mix of pine needle, sandalwood, cranberry, blueberry skin, sumac, and star anise. Though it is a darker wine with mouth-coating tannins, there is a significant lift and energy to balance. Lip-smacking acidity and a crunchy, phenolic bite makes this heartier red surprisingly versatile. Definitely built for pasta and red sauce — Anne says, "if Natalino had his way he would just eat pasta every meal" — it will work with a whole host of summer vegetables and grilled meats, too. Even more surprising, I found it to be great three days after opening it, kept in the fridge. Jonathan Kemp