Wine Of The Week: Tenute Rubino Oltreme Susumaniello DOC Brindisi
A rich, concentrated red that pairs perfectly with pizza.
Tommaso Rubino started working in the Salento area of Puglia in the 1980s. If you’re not familiar with wines from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot), they tend to show rich, concentrated notes across the board and make for absolutely perfect pizza wines.
There are many grapes one associated with Puglia — Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Aglianico – but instead, Rubino’s son Luigi chose to focus on one of the lesser-known heritage varieties: Susumaniello. The name stems from the word somarello, or donkey, after the grape’s hardiness. The variety is able to withstand vigorous, hot weather and the clusters tend to overpack themselves, just as a donkey tends to stay in close groups.
The grape is still seldom seen across the region, but it simply shouldn’t be. It’s intense garnet in color with shimmers of violet. It’s plush and round, with deep concentration and soft tannins. Robust concentration — the grapes saw a lot of sun under the Puglian sky — with subtle bitter notes of hazelnut, blackcurrant, bay leaf, and earth. It spends zero months in steel tanks, so while the flavors are concentrated and robust, the wine retains its freshness.
Tenute Rubino’s Oltreme is a perfect companion to heartier fare — risottos, roasts, and other centerpieces for cold-weather feasts. Definitely a variety worth seeking out and I’d be keen to try it after aged for a few years. $30
Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater, Forbes.com, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.