A-Mano offers bold taste at a reasonable price

A-Mano is a wine I always come back to because it is one of the stellar values in the market.

Since I last reviewed this wine, the winery has been sold and it now even makes a zinfandel in the south of Italy, but it still has the original American winemaker and the wine is delicious.

When Mark Shannon, who used to make wine in his native California, arrived in Puglia, Italy, he knew he found his calling. The primitivo grape used in this wine is considered the forefather of the zinfandel grape. There are similarities between the two grapes, but the primitivo is more robust and shows more forward fruit than a zinfandel from California -- unless you pay big bucks.

Puglia provides the conditions for successful cultivation of this indigenous and underrated grape varietal. A-Mano is a serious wine with potential at a great price, and it will please your palate immensely.

In the glass, it is a deep blackish-red color with an opaque appearance going out into a deep purple to blood-red rim definition with high viscosity.

On the nose, there is immediate bold crushed ripe black and red berry fruit, permeated by creme de cassis, star anise, licorice, boysenberry sorbet and oak references.

On the palate, it is a huge mouthful of berries and chewy, ripe, juicy black fruit, with hints of tobacco, chocolate, aniseed and wild cherries that come through the midpalate. It comes together nicely on the after-mouth, where the powerful, yet supple tannins kick in and deliver a pleasant, lengthy finish with hints of licorice and dried figs.

A-Mano is a superb value and delivers that big, bold flavor so sought after in California. It is made for immediate drinking and employs the now fashionable black plastic stopper, which at least keeps the wine from getting corked, yet does not allow for long-term aging in the bottle. The wine goes well with all types of rich foods because it has excellent levels of acidity, but it is especially recommended with Italian meat dishes and pasta with Bolognese sauce.

Wine: A-Mano Primitivo Puglia IGT

Grape: Primitivo

Region: Puglia, southern Italy

Vintage: 2003

Price: $9.99

Gil Lempert-Schwarz's wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at gil@winevegas.com.


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