Jaddico Estate – Tenute Rubino
Susumaniello is a grape varietal with a long history in Brindisi, Puglia. An autochthonous varietal with little documented history, Susumaniello has become a passion project for the Rubino family. The Rubino family first started making Susumaniello in the late 1990’s, and were the only ones reviving this ancient, rare and obscure varietal that was on its way to extinction.
Tenute Rubino is a family-owned winery in southern Italy, in Puglia. In the mid-1980’s, Tommaso Rubino purchased prime parcels of vineyards and sold the finest grapes from the Adriatic Coast to Brindisi. Tommaso understood the great potential of Salento wines. It was in 1999 that Luigi approached his father Tommaso to make wine. It was then that Tenute Rubino was first started with a winery in Brindisi.
Luigi Rubino and his wife Romina Leopardi made huge investments to build and modernize the winery. They did not want to grow just any grapes, their focus was to promote local indigenous varietals of Salento, with a focus on Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malavasia and primarily Susumaniello.
Luigi Rubino & Romina Leopardi – Picture Courtesy Tenute Rubino
I had the opportunity to visit the sun-drenched vineyards of Tenute Rubino and spend a couple of days with Luigi & Romina. I was enamored with their passion for preserving, reviving and experimenting with the Susumaniello grape varietal. We visited one of their four esteemed estates, Jaddico, which is ideal for growing Susmaniello. Jaddico is a gorgeous estate with an old masseria at its epicenter and the Adriatic ocean in the background. The terroir at Jaddico is the best suited for Susumaniello. Luigi and Romina have dedicated 24 hectares to this ancient varietal.
Susumaniello Grape – Picture Courtesy Tenute Rubino
The cool ocean breezes from the Adriatic Ocean, along with its sandy marine limestone soils make Jaddico the ideal site for growing Susumaniello. When they first started Tenute Rubino, they grew Susumaniello on several of their estates, but after years of studies and experimentation, they found that Jaddico was the site that produced the best expressions of this rare varietal.
Romina shared stories with us that revealed that Jaddico always had ties to grape growing and winemaking. Archaeological excavations have brought to light the old manor house and the kilns where Visellio, the ancient owner of the estate, cooked the wine amphorae. In Roman times, Jaddico was the home of a wonderful vineyard and an important production center for wine containers, then found throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Tenute Rubino logo was a carving they found on these old excavated amphorae found on the Jaddico Estate.
Susumaniello is a red varietal grown exclusively in Salice Salento. It is one of the world’s rarest and obscure grape. There are theories that the varietal has come from across the Adriatic, from the Dalmatian Coast(Croatia). It has a dark deep color, almost black. It is rich, concentrated and rustic with red berries, spice and dark chocolate notes.
Tenute Rubino – Brindisi Harbor
A classic Susumaniello wine has a deep ruby hue and aromas of red berries and plums. Richer, more concentrated examples show spicy, peppery aromas and flavors of dark chocolate. It is a versatile varietal that makes light fresh rosés, sparkling wines, easy drinking reds, and deeply concentrated complex wines that can be aged.
We had the opportunity to taste and evaluate some of the experimentations of the Rubino family, with the Susumaniello varietal. We tasted the wines via a formal sit down comprehensive seminar with Luigi, Romina and winemaker Luca Petrelli. Giving us some background on the grape, we learned that Susumaniello was a varietal that was typically a blending grape used to add color and structure to a wine. At Tenute Rubino, they make six types of Susumaniello; three classic method sparking wines, a rosé, an easy drinking version, and a top ageworthy complex wine.
Susumaniello Wines From Tenute Rubino
Tenute Rubino is one of the first wineries to make sparkling wine in Puglia. At the forefront of winemaking, they are making three different types of sparkling rosé Susumaniello in the classic method. With disgorgement at 30, 42, and 60 months, the wines are produced from an early harvest of Susumaniello grapes, from the Jaddico estate.
Tenute Rubino Sumaré Sparkling Rosé Susumaniello
We tasted the Sumaré Brut 2015 which was disgorged at 30 months, it was the perfect apertivo wine with nice fresh acidity. The Sumaré Brut 2014 was the 42 month disgorged method classico, which was richer and more creamy and was the perfect food wine. The Sumaré 2013 was made with zero dosage and produced in very limited production. It had grapefruit notes with a toasty almond palate.
We went on to taste the Torre Testa Rosato Susumaniello 2018, which was fresh with lovely notes of raspberries. Next we tasted the Oltremé 2017, the wine expressed the greatness and structure of Susumaniello. The 2017 was young, fresh, and vibrant with no oak. It was versatile and seductive. My friend and fellow wine writer, Ryan O’Hara of The Fermented Fruit described the Oltremé as “hedonistically delicious”.
Next up we had a vertical tasting of their premium Torre Testa line of Susumaniello; tasting 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2006 in Magnum. The five wines were produced from old vines from the Jaddico estate. As we had the older vintages the wines exuded structure and elegance. The tannins had softened but the wines were still fresh and vibrant. Across the board, the wines had nice fruit and a smoky quality with a touch of savoriness. These are unique and exceptional wines that every wine lover needs to explore.
Luigi and Romina, with their forward thinking vision, have started a renaissance of sorts for the Susumaniello grape. With their passion, studies, experimentation, and revival of this ancient varietal, Susumaiello is now grown by several producers in Puglia. They aspire to increase the awareness of Susumaniello, and make it one of the main red varietals of Puglia.
Not only do Luigi and Romina excel in Susumaniello, be sure to look for wines from Tenute Rubino’s four estates, where they focus on the other indigenous varietals of Puglia. Their red varietals are primarily Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera, Aleatico and Ottavianello and the white varieties are Malvasia Bianca and Vermentino.
Tenute Rubino Libens Sparkling Vermentino