Antinori has a history of producing quality wines, and its newest pleasure is the good value 2007 Tormaresca Neprica.

For more than 600 years, the noble house of Antinori has been producing wine in its native Tuscany. A few years ago, Marchesi Piero Antinori and his daughters extended their winemaking prowess southward to Italy’s Puglia region.

The heel of Italy’s boot-shaped form, Puglia long has been a source of agricultural products and inexpensive hearty wines. For centuries, its rustic red wines were often used to fortify better-known and higher-priced red wines of Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto when their wines suffered a poor vintage.
Antinori purchased two vineyards in separate areas of Puglia and joined them in a new winery called Tormaresca. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, both are planted with Puglia’s indigenous grapes negroamaro and primitivo. The name of the red wine, Neprica, is composed from their initial letters: ne-pri-ca.

The 2007 Tomaresca Neprica is a blend of 40 percent negroamaro and 30 percent each primitivo and cabernet sauvignon. Known for an ability to provide rich color, aroma, and flavor, Antinori applied the straightforward winemaking technique of vinifying the wines separately in stainless steel tanks. After blending them, the winemakers aged the Neprica eight months in the stainless steel tanks. By eschewing oak barrels, Antinori preserved the grapes’ natural qualities.

The result is a dark red blackberry and herb-scented 2007 Tormaresca Neprica that coats the palate with striking fruit flavor. All three grapes yield high tannins that can make for astringent wine, but Antinori has harnessed that inclination with Tuscan winemaking refinement. The 2007 Tormaresca Naprica’s combination of ripe, easy-to-enjoy fruit, a full body and a balanced finish is the recipe of New World wines. That it comes with a reasonable price tag from a master wine family of the Old World increases its desirability.

I found the 2007 Tormaresca Neprica delightful with a southern Italian dish of fennel-flavored sausages in tomato sauce with spinach steamed with olive oil. In 2006, I had a wonderful lunch in Naples at Trattoria San Ferdinando where the owner prepared a special plate for me of spring’s best vegetables: grilled eggplant and zucchini, red and yellow peppers mixed with black olives and capers, steamed spinach and broccoli, and baby artichokes. Whether these foods are at your table or at Trattoria San Ferdinando, the 2007 Tormaresca Neprica will be a pleasing Puglia guest.

The 2007 Tormaresca Neprica retails for approximately $12.