Compare this to the 2000 Agricole Vallone Salice Salentino I reviewed earlier [April 21, May 22, May 28, 2008]. Salice Salentino is a warm, dry wine-growing area on the Adriatic coast in southern Italy that is known for producing fruit-oriented but ageworthy wines that ordinarily sell for $12 to $15. I picked up the Agricole Vallone for $4.75 on closeout at a local supermarket; this Epicuro was $5.99 at Trader Joe's. I didn't get cheated with either one.
Epicuro's Salice Salentino is a very dark, bluish color with amber tones shading to the rim. Still young. The label describes "intense and persistent aromas of red woodsy berries," and I agree. There are fresh blueberries in the salad I'm eating, and there is no question that the wine's aroma and flavors also echo those of the blueberries--wild and woodsy. In the mouth, the wine is rich and creamy, leaving some tingly areas on the tongue but nothing harsh, hard or tannic. It's very ripe, in the 2003 mode, but the alcohol level is only 13%. It's neither hot nor raisiny; simply ripe and what you might expect from blueberries and raspberries--wild and freshly picked. It's hard not to like this wine, and I plan to go back for more. Although it may not be made for long-term aging, the fruit is strong enough to hold up for several years.
Is it better than the Agricole Vallone? I think many tasters would like it better. It's three years younger and significantly riper. What it lacks, for me, is the pleasantly bitter tones on the finish that are to be expected of Salice Salentino and very nicely presented in the Agricole Vallone. For the price, I'll take a case of each and enjoy every drop.