One of the methods that Italians use to intensify their wines is called appassimento. In this process, grapes are dried to eliminate much of their water content, thus concentrating the sugars and flavors. Powerful and expensive Amarone wines from Veneto are made this way. However, there are more affordable examples available including Gran Appasso from Puglia described below. It’s compared with another Pugliese wine made in the usual manner. The prices of the wines, which were purchased at World Market, reflect free membership and promotional discounts.
Gran Appasso 2015 Rosso Passito, Puglia
Bought • World Market, 24 Brentwood Promenade Court, in September for $11.99.
Description • Gran Appasso is a blend of negroamaro and primitivo grapes. A portion of these varietals were dried through the appassimento method, and the wine was aged for a short time in oak barrels. The result is a complex red that’s medium- to full-bodied and has an alcohol level of 14.5 percent. This is a robust wine that would be best enjoyed with hearty, flavorful food including meat stews and strong cheeses.
Vanitá 2016 Primitivo, Puglia
Bought • World Market, 24 Brentwood Promenade Court, in September for $12.99.
Description • Vanitá is imported by the U.S. unit of well-respected González Byass, the Spanish company famous for its fine sherries including Tío Pepe. Made from primitivo grapes, this is a medium-bodied fruity red that tastes of concentrated cherries with some earthiness. A bit easier to drink than the Gran Appasso, it has soft tannins and an alcohol level of 13.5 percent. The wine’s acidity makes it a good match for pasta and pizza with tomato sauce.