A treasure hiding in plain sight.
A century and a millennium ends and Tenute Rubino is still spreading its wings. Tommaso Rubino is keen to encourage the valuable intuitions of his son Luigi, supporting him with all the insight and knowledge of someone who has dedicated his life to winemaking. The company already has a young and promising oenologist – Luca Petrelli – who listens to and begins sharing the dreams of this young entrepreneur who sees the potential of a particular terroir and of vines that, at the time, few people were likely to recognize. In time they begin talking about an ancient vine, once very popular in the Brindisi area, where growers were in the habit of planting it between rows of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. A strange little grape known as Susumaniello. The two have many questions, especially for Piernicola Tondo – the seasoned agronomist of the Rubino family. Come harvest time, the grapes are of an intense blue colour, the clusters are small and tightly packed: many of the distinctive qualities of this forgotten vine already very apparent.
A crucial year for Tenute Rubino. Luigi has decided to perform a massal selection of the Susumaniello obtained from the oldest plants, the ones which have achieved the best productive balance. The original vineyard has been established in the post-war years and most of it needs to be dug out. The Susumaniello vines however are kept, to be replanted in a plot at the centre of the Jaddico estate. The coming fall, Susumaniello is harvested separately, to experiment with different picking times and several micro-fermentations performed by Luca Petrelli and evaluated by Luigi and Tommaso. Everyone is surprised by the colour: a deep blue wine with reddish highlights, with a strong aromatic profile. The palate is muscular, powerful and full-bodied, almost chewy. There is a need for wood to subdue the power of its tannins. Some distinctive elements, however, are clear, especially to Luigi Rubino. The team decides to consult an oenologist who fully understands the potential of this grape. Tommaso Rubino welcomes on board Riccardo Cotarella.
For their first meeting, Luigi Rubino wants to give him a broad picture of the potential of this almost forgotten grape variety. He wants make a new wine and call it Torre Testa, an homage to the tower built here in Jaddico in the 16th century, one of the many scattered along the Salentine coast, the most important defence against the Ottoman raids on these rich and populous lands. The tasting in the cellar took up the whole afternoon. Riccardo Cotarella was welcomed to a seemingly endless battery of glasses laid out before him, each containing a sample resulting from all the different tests conducted by Luca Petrelli and Luigi Rubino, batches made by experimenting with different harvest times, different woods and maceration techniques. After careful analysis, Cotarella confirms the enormous potential of the grape and, at the same time, observes the need for further work focusing on harvest times.
The Birth of Torre Testa.
The flagship wine of the Susumaniello Project celebrates its first vintage. Torre Testa 2001 is the first step of a journey in the creation of an iconic label that stands out for its aromatic opulence, elegant texture and, above all, longevity. A wine designed to evolve and improve over time. At this stage, the market knows little or nothing about this grape variety. In the first year the company produces just over 7000 bottles of the new wine, a small treasure closely monitored by Luigi Rubino throughout the ageing phase both in barrique and bottle.
The wine is challenging, linear, unmistakable in its identity. It begins to attract interest and, in time, a small following. The bottles show promise of great longevity, in time they will evolve into a signature label, a meditation wine. The climatic trend of the year’s vintage, with a mild spring and a hot summer, can be felt in the glass: Torre Testa 2001 contains all the energy of Salento and displays a very intense and almost impenetrable dark red colour. Thanks to the medium toasting of the French oak barriques in which it has matured for 12 long months, it emerges on the palate with classic nuances of red and black berry fruit, chocolate and cinnamon. The finish is intense and clean, with fruity and spicy notes. It is the wine that everyone in Tenute Rubino hoped for: it receives a score of 90 points from Wine Spectator, its first three Glasses from Gambero Rosso and 5 clusters from Duemilavini. It is a great result that warms everyone’s hearts.
A Difficult Harvest.
A very challenging year for various wine-growing regions throughout Italy, characterized by considerable climatic instability. Luigi Rubino decides to keep the production going, as if to test the performance of the Susumaniello grapes even in the toughest circumstances. The selection is very rigorous and results in a significant drop in production: only 5000 of Torre Testa 2002 bottles are produced, but each one feels like a victory to Luigi Rubino: it will be necessary to wait for the right time to taste it and understand its fabric and its evolutionary potential.
The colour is dense, highly concentrated. On the nose it releases notes of cocoa and liquorice, while on the palate it is enveloping, elegant and refined. Hints of spice and ripe fruit linger towards a finish of unparalleled persistence, supported with harmony by a perfectly integrated acidic note. The awards keep coming: Gambero Rosso’s three Glasses, 90 points from Falstaff.
The year opens with abundant rainfall well into the month of April and delivers a dry summer between July and September, an overall balanced growing season. Torre Testa 2003 is elegant and fine. On the nose, notes of red berry fruit, chocolate, cinnamon and liquorice, the palate is caressing and full of charm. The tannins are particularly dense, while the long finish evokes further notes of spice and cocoa. An opulent wine with a great aging potential. The production of bottles is the highest since Torre Testa’s debut, coming up to 9000 bottles. The 2003 vintage receives a very handsome 93 points from the magazine Wine Enthusiast.
A Vintage to Remember.
An exceptional year yielding bountiful and perfectly ripe fruit. Torre Testa 2004, with its intense ruby red colour, charms the nose with fragrant hints of ripe red fruit and spice, notes of toast and vanilla in perfect balance. On the palate it is dense and elegant in texture, supported by a marked acidity. The tannins are important and the finish is long, of great persistence. Production reaches the 10,000-bottle milestone for the first time. More important awards for this vintage: 5 clusters from Duemilavini, 92 points from I Vini di Veronelli, 92 points awarded by Wine Enthusiast and 90 points by Falstaff.
A Surplus of Elegance.
Torre Testa 2006 is a wine of great impact. The nose offers notes of very ripe red and black berry fruit. Concentrated and intense, with spicy and mineral nuances. In the mouth it is rich, full and round, pleasantly close-knit and elegant, with a distinctive complexity. The finish is long, enveloping and incredibly persistent. It receives 5 Clusters from DuemilaVini, 92 points from Antonio Galloni on Vinous and 90 points from Veronelli. The 2006 vintage succeeds once again in hitting the 10,000 bottle mark.
An excellent vintage.
A rich and vigorous wine, the result of an excellent vintage. Spacious and full-bodied on the palate, with notes of spice and ripe fruit which are confirmed on the nose. The aroma is intense, with hints of ripe fruit brought on by the hot summer months. Mineral and balsamic notes complete its complex bouquet. The texture is rich and silky, the tannins enveloping. The long finish ends with a vibrant vein of acidity, imbued with the same touches of fruit and spice. 9000 newly minted bottles are shipped to important international markets. The 2007 vintage receives 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and is awarded the prestigious 5 clusters from Duemilavini.
La raccolta tardiva.
Si è conclusa la collaborazione con Riccardo Cotarella. Con la 2010 Luigi Rubino e Luca Petrelli danno vita ad un’ulteriore interpretazione del Torre Testa: decidono per una raccolta tardiva delle uve e il risultato è una maggiore ricchezza e intensità del frutto. Il clima fresco ma soleggiato ha dato vita ad un vino dall’equilibrio esemplare, tra espressione aromatica matura, grande freschezza e una qualità di tannini ampi, setosi e perfettamente morbidi. Il colore è intenso e al naso sprigiona note speziate e minerali. Al palato è avvolgente, con intense note di ciliegia matura, spezie e confettura, e un finale che si prolunga con un delicato sentore di cacao. Si raggiunge un nuovo record con 11.000 bottiglie prodotte che vengono premiate con 92 punti su Wine Enthusiast.
Consistency and Elegance.
A balanced and consistent vintage. With a total production of 12,000 bottles, 2011 fulfils all expectations for the new course launched by Luigi and Luca in 2010: the colour is an intense dark red, the nose is elegant and ethereal with complex notes of black cherry and liqueur plum, black currant and blackberry jam, giving way to hints of chocolate, juniper, nutmeg, liquorice and cinnamon. The complexity is confirmed on the palate: Torre Testa 2011 is silky and round, a rich and generous wine, but also fresh and structured. It stands out considerably compared to previous vintages for its finesse. Not surprisingly, it is awarded Gambero Rosso’s Three Glasses with a stellar score.
A Perfect Balance.
The 2012 vintage benefited from a particularly dry and sunny vegetative year, which created the ideal conditions for the ripening of the grapes. The result was a perfectly balanced wine, with an intense ruby red colour and flashes of purple on the rim. The nose offers rich notes of fully ripe fruit with a delicate spiciness and hints of red and black berry fruit, which blend on the palate with notes of cocoa and liquorice. The rich and dense structure is balanced by a lively acidity that keeps the finish long, clean and full-bodied. Once again, it receives Three Glasses from the Gambero Rosso wine guide and 94 points from Falstaff. The production is consistent with a total 11,000 bottles produced.
Finesse and Longevity.
A propitious vintage with no excessive heat peaks, good wind and excellent diurnal temperature variations. Torre Testa 2013 has an intense, almost dark ruby red colour, a great olfactory concentration, thanks to notes of vanilla, liquorice, cocoa, liquored plum and ripe black cherries. On the palate it is full and round, with soft and velvety tannins. The finish, long and persistent, has a dense balsamic aftertaste and hints of chocolate. Undoubtedly, this is one of Torre Testa’s greatest vintages, with an excellent aging potential. Another Three Glasses from Gambero Rosso! We return to the highest levels with 12,000 bottles produced.
Fewer but Exceptional Grapes.
The vintage stood out above all for its quality. Throughout the region, spring passed in the best possible way and the abundant rains that occurred both in winter and during the vegetative restart favoured budding and promoted the phenological development of the vine in the best possible way. Torre Testa 2015 is dark and intense in colour, with notes of fully ripe red fruit, spice, coffee and chocolate. The bouquet is enlivened by balsamic and mineral notes. In the mouth it is rich and enveloping, full and round, with a density of ample and very soft tannins. The wine is fragrant, delicate and silky, ready to uncork but also worth waiting for. The production of the 2015 harvest came to approx. 7000 bottles.
Soft and Sunny
The particularly hot climate over the year resulted in rich and intense grapes, thus expressing a wine of great intensity that has developed a perfect integration of all its elements. Torre Testa 2016 is characterized by very expressive fruit notes and a velvety and substantial palate. On the nose we have hints of ripe black berry fruit with spicy and balsamic notes. The tannins are abundant but soft and silky. The wine lingers on the palate with delightful acidity and freshness, the finish is long and intense, imbued with those fruity and spicy notes found on the nose. More important awards: 93 points from Robert Parker and 4 Vines from the Vitae guide.
Intense and caressing
The abundant rainfall of the spring season guaranteed a more than adequate water supply to the fields and resulted in a harvest of rich and juicy fruit. With its intense, inky ruby red colour, Torre Testa 2017 captures the heart with notes of ripe red fruit such as plum and liqueur cherry. Hints of fruit preserve and dark chocolate give way to spicy notes of cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg, with precious aromas of vanilla and liquorice. The summer winds blowing in from the Adriatic Sea have enriched the aromatic range of the wine with fresh and mineral notes. The palate is perfectly balanced with well-rounded and delicate tannins. The finish is leisurely and persistent, resulting in a complex, caressing and firm wine. Torre Testa has reached its peak with the 2017 vintage, the 94 points awarded by the prestigious wine magazine Falstaff the 5 Grappoli from Bibenda, the 4 viti from AIS and 94 points from both Doctor Wine and the 5 Stars competition represent one more important recognition of this wine’s elegance, personality and ageability.
ROBERT PARKER WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS
The 2001 Torre Testa, from a successful vintage, is made from a grape with the jaw-breaking (for Americans) name of Susumaniello, previously used almost exclusively for blending but now being re-launched by this house as an important variety in its own right. This is an evaluation which would be hard to disagree with, given the stature of this wine, almost pitch black in color and with a potent blackberry, mineral nose with additional notes of plum jam, very dense, forceful, and long and on the palate with an impressively intense and lingering finish of sweet fruit and voluptuous tannins. Drink: 2005-2015.
WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS
Dark-colored, with wonderful blackberry and chocolate aromas. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a delicious rich and smoky finish. Like an outstandingAussie Shiraz. This is made by consulting enologist Riccardo Cotarella; he’s made a fantastic new wine from a little-known local grapecalled Susumaniello. Drink now through 2007. 500 cases made. — JS
DUEMILAVINI 5 GRAPPOLI
‘’Struttura, potenza, ma anche tanta eleganza e personalità (…) Questa azienda è una delle aziende emergenti della moderna enologia pugliese. Anche e molto giovane, Tenute Rubino ha saputo fare passi da gigante, raggiungendo l’eccellenza con notevole rapidità. Il livello qualitativo medio della gamma è molto elevato; vini ricchi e piacevoli che stanno giustamente regalando notevoli successi commerciali’’
VINOUS 90 POINTS
Deep ruby-red with inky tones. Elegant, balsamic aromas of black cherry, nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a hint of raisin. Lush, rich and refined, finishing with smooth, silky tannins. Shows obviously high alcohol with out coming across as hot.
WINE ENTHUSIAST 92 POINTS
This is an excellent wine from a grape few people have ever heard of—Susumaniello—with inky, concentrated extracts and intense aromas of dried currants, fruit preserves, root beer, plums, blackberry and sweet cookie dough. It’s sticky and creamy in the mouth with molasses and herbal notes over the long, luscious finish.
FALSTAFF 92 POINTS
Rosso granato ricco e frizzante. Naso denso ed espressivo, sentori di tabacco, carruba, un po’ di inchiostro, prugne mature, in un gioco accattivante. È ben maturo, ricco, presente all’inizio, tannino fitto, ben maturo nel finale, scorre con calma, sottili note minerali nel retrogusto, può ancora evolvere per diversi anni.
WINE ENTHUSIAST 92 POINTS
Susumaniello is a little-known indigenous grape of Southern Italy that shows great promise and persistency. This expression boasts modern aromas of soft toasted oak, vanilla, Spanish cedar and pipe tobacco. The wine is thick and velvety with slightly sweet flavours of chocolate fudge.
ROBERT PARKER WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS
The 2006 Salento Rosso Torre Testa is made from Susumaniello, an ancient indigenous variety that bears some resemblance to Aglianico and Pellagrello Nero in its wild, unrestrained character. Black fruit, earthiness, tar, smoke, minerals and French oak emerge from this explosive, full-bodied red. The tannins could use a touch more softness, something that should come (at least to some extent) with further bottle age. This is an intriguing wine from Tenute Rubino that offers exceptional balance and plenty of style. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2018.
VINOUS 92 POINTS
The 2006 Salento Rosso Torre Testa is made from Susumaniello, an ancient indigenous variety that bears some resemblance to Aglianico and Pellagrello Nero in its wild, unrestrained character. Black fruit, earthiness, tar, smoke, minerals and French oak emerge from this explosive, full-bodied red. The tannins could use a touch more softness, something that should come (at least to some extent) with further bottle age. This is an intriguing wine from Tenute Rubino that offers exceptional balance and plenty of style.
FALSTAFF 91 POINTS
Impenetrabile, ricco, rubino con sfumature violacee. Naso fantastico, avvolgente, pieno con sentori di more e lillà. Potente al palato, si apre con tannini ricchi, sapidi, in un piacere profondo, nel finale molto fruttato e speziato.
WINE ENTHUSIAST 93 POINTS
TorreTesta is an amazing wine that points to the full potential of winemaking in Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy. Made from a rare indigenous grape called Susumaniello, this is a ripe, soft, enduring and ever-so satisfying red wine that could pair with any hearty meat dish. Aromas of blackberry, chocolate and exotic spice are enhanced by a beautiful velvety texture.
WINE ENTHUSIAST 92 POINTS
Torre Testa demonstrates the beauty and power of Puglia’s little-known Susumaniello grape. Enhanced by careful oak aging, the wine offers dark fruit aromas, followed by tobacco, chocolate and rum cake notes. On the palate, it is soft, plush and rich, with a mocha-tinged finish.
ROBERT PARKER WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS
The 2011 Torre Testa is an exceptional wine with a great sense of stylistic personality and balance. The Susumaniello grape is a hopeful protagonist of Puglia winemaking and the success of Torre Testa is one important reason for the current notoriety it enjoys to day. This is a seamless wine with aromas of chocolate, dark cherry, tobacco and blackberry syrup that all compete for your attention. The wine shows slightly gritty tannins backed by opulent fruit flavours and a touch of berry sweetness that characteristic of this warm vintage.
FALSTAFF 94 POINTS
Color rubino ricco e impenetrabile con un cuore nero. Presente tanta frutta, molte prugne, anche fichi, amarene, un po’ di rosmarino, sullo sfondo si percepisce anche molto tabacco. Al palato risulta succoso e rotondo nel finale, con molta mora e mirtillo, si apre poi nella parte posteriore con un tannino avvincente, complesso e profondo, presentando sia ricchezza di frutto che grande freschezza.
VINI D’ITALIA GAMBERO ROSSO 3 BICCHIERI
Il Torre Testa, Susumaniello in purezza, conquista il terzo Tre Bicchieri consecutivo grazie a una versione 2013 ricca di frutto, equilibrata e di buona materia, con un finale fresco e lungo.
FALSTAFF 94 POINTS
Viola rubino intenso. In apertura con una fine nota di pepe, amarena e mora, fini note di tabacco in sottofondo. Una magnifica avvolgenza colpisce il palato, frutta matura e concentrata, tannino denso e freschezza, è tutto lì! Molto fine che si scioglie nel retrogusto, è divertente.
ROBERT PARKER WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS
This is Tenute Rubino’s flagship wine. The 2016 Susumaniello Torre Testa is beautifully ripe and plump, with thick layers of plum, dried blackberry and a touch of rum cake, all fortified with a 15.5% alcoholic content. Aged in barrique for 11 months, this is a great wine for a winter risotto recipe, with pumpkin and Taleggio. Torre Testa made history in Southern Italy as one of the first internationally recognized expressions of the Susumaniello grape, and you get full-bodied appeal here with lots of ripe, fruity fiber to wrap over the palate. Some 10,000 bottles were released.
FALSTAFF 94 POINTS
Granato intenso e scuro. Al naso coriaceo e pepato, ha qualcosa di carruba, poi sentori pieni di amarene. Giovane e persistente al palato, di piena densità, si stende fine sulla lingua, tannino avvincente, buona freschezza al palato, nel finale sentori di more e mirtilli rossi.
VITAE AIS 4 VITI
Prosegue il lavoro che mira a valorizzare i vitigni tradizionali salentini, e in particolare le specificità dell’area brindisina, quella influenzata in modo più significativo dalla vicinanza del Mare Adriatico. In questa direzione si colloca, fra gli altri, il progetto sul Susumaniello, che sta producendo risultati eccellenti, come dimostra pienamente il Brindisi Rosso Torre TestaRosso rubino impenetrabile. Naso fittissimo nel quale si riconoscono amarena, mora di rovo, erbe selvatiche, viola, papavero, buccia di melanzana, caffè, liquirizia e speziatura dolce. Palato carnoso, sorretto da un’ottima trama tannica e da adeguata freschezza; lunghissima persistenza, percorsa da multiformi risonanze.
TASTING PANEL 95 POINTS
Made from the rare Susumaniello grape, the wine is aged 12 months in French oak and 12 months in bottle. Inky black in color, with a nose of damp earth and tobacco. Balsamic, bay leaf, black olive and plum converge in a midnight sky of flavor. Silky tannins and striking acidity are backed by black pepper and a meatiness that glides through to a finish of minerals and tilled soil.
VITAE AIS 4 VITI
Rubino impenetrabile con luminose screziature amaranto. Ammaliante al naso, con ondate di amarena, ciliegia scura, arancia sanguinella, erbe officinali, radice di liquirizia e cioccolato fondente. Sorso di stoffa pregevole, con tannino vellutato e freschezza indomita. Chiusura a coda di pavone. Capriolo con salsa di ribes