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The Susumaniello Grape


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About Susumaniello

(Synonyms: Cozzomaniello, Grismaniello, Somarello Nero,Susomaniello, Susumaniello Nero, Zingariello, Zuzomaniello.)

Background

Map showing the Puglia region of Italy.

Susumaniello is a red-wine grape originating in the Brindisi province in Puglia, Italy. Nowadays, it is produced throughout Puglia, though still mainly around Brindisi. Historically Susumaniello has mostly been used in blends, but recently it (like so many Italian varieties) is having attention paid to it, and so monovarietal bottlings are on the increase.

(Pronunciation is: soo-soo-man-YELL-o.)

Classically, Susumaniello was rather tart and rough around the edges, but owing to its recent rise in status much cleaner and more elegant bottlings are now more the norm. Susumaniello vines have a curious habit: in early years, they tend to produce lots of rather boring, bland wines; but at about the ten-year point, their production drops sharply. Because of that, farmers were reluctant to grow the grape, hence its slide into obscurity. But what was recently realized is that when the vines drop off in productivity, they sharply increase in grape—and thus wine—quality. (It is common for reduced vine productivity to increase quality: it’s just that for a long time, no one thought about Susumaniello in that way.)

Susumaniello tends to be deeply ruby-colored, with lots of red-fruit and plum flavors. Its alcohol tends to be high, and it has good acidity that well balances the fruit. Better specimens are often on the rich and full-bodied side, with enough tannins that they can age for a few years (its aging potential is often described as “medium”). Nowadays, Susumaniello wines often get a few months of oak-barrel aging, adding some vanilla notes to the wines. Some also report spice overtones. All in all, it is quite a nice wine, and goes well with many foods.

Factoid: the grape name “Susumaniello” is derived from Italian somarello, meaning “donkey”, presumably because (like a donkey) its vines bear remarkably heavy loads.

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Some Descriptions of Susumaniello Wines

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Some Susumaniellos to Try

(About this list.)

Despite its rapidly growing popularity on the world stage, Susumaniello wines are not (yet) plentiful in the U.S. marketplace. Nonetheless, the bottlings below are good and representative examples of the wine.


Masseria Li Veli Susumaniello
(Salento IGT, Puglia, Italy. This is their red bottling, not their rosé)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Tenute Rubino “Oltremé” Susumaniello
(Salento IGT, Puglia, Italy.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



A Mano “Imprint of Mark Shannon” Susumaniello
(Puglia, Italy.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Forte Incanto Susumaniello
(Salento IGT, Puglia, Italy. Apparently only available from one national retail chain.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Susumaniello wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.