salice salentino

The Miracle of Cantele’s Salice Salentino

“Miracle” is a strong word to use when it comes to describing a wine. But I am confident that it’s warranted in this case!

I’m talking about Cantele’s Salice Salentino, a classic blend of the winery’s top Negroamaro blended with smaller amounts of Malvasia Nera, also from its best growing sites.

You don’t need me to tell you that it’s delicious: I wouldn’t be posting about here if it weren’t! There’s no miracle in that: the wine always has the balance of fruit, savory, and bright acidity that I look for in Salice Salentino. Even in tough vintages, Gianni Cantele’s Salice Salentino always delivers that symphony of dark red fruit, earthiness (and even meaty flavors), and a nervy backbone of acidity that makes it one of my favorite food-friendly wines.

The wine is ridiculously affordable. I’m not going to go into pricing here because the prices vary from market to market (here in Texas, where I live, it costs a little more than it does in my native California, for example) because of the Texas brokerage system and state taxes. But the different pricing schedules are negligible. Cantele Salice Salentino has been on the list by the glass at Sotto in Los Angeles (where I curate the wine list) since the restaurant opened this spring and it’s still going strong — one of our guests favorite wines, at a great price.

Now, in order for a wine to achieve sainthood — beatification by the Holy Church of winelovers — it needs to perform three miracles.

Delicious? Check! Reasonably priced? Check.

So what’s the third?

Nearly every night at Sotto, the same miracle happens over and over again. An angelino sits down at the table, looks at the wine list, doesn’t recognize any of the wines (because we serve only southern Italian wines, many of them foreign to the average Super Tuscan lover), and she or he (and she or he is often a celebrity, although I cannot name names here) will say, well, I’m a Bordeaux drinker. Do you have any Bordeaux? Well versed in this conundrum, our staff has been trained to answer confidently: no, ma’am [or sir], we don’t have any Bordeaux on our list. But I do have something special that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s very well priced. Let me pour you a taste of the wine. And from the wide selection of excellent wines on our list, the staff always chooses the Salice Salentino in this case. And it never fails. Before you know it, last year’s host of the Oscars (I’m not shitting you either) is LOVING her some Salice Salentino.

Cantele Salice Salentino, I love you…

Jeremy Parzen

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